Paul Cook: Prove you should be in my team

Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Steve Reid/Blitz Photography
Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Steve Reid/Blitz Photography
  • Pompey tonight face Woking (7.30pm) looking to stretch unbeaten pre-season record
  • Conor Chaplin has been one of the bright spots of the friendly campaign so far

Paul Cook has challenged his players to prove they deserve to be in his Pompey team.

The Blues head to Woking tonight (7.30pm) undefeated in four pre-season matches so far.

We have all got plans for teams, but possession of a shirt is huge because there is only really you that can come out of a team. If you play well it normally takes care of itself

Paul Cook

The clash with the National League side comes off the back of an impressive all-round display against Coventry City on Tuesday night.

That 2-1 victory delighted Cook, with a number of eye-catching performances in the Westleigh Park outing.

Next up is tonight’s trip to the Cards – and Cook is urging his players to continue showing their worth.

He said: ‘I want lads to show, like they did on Tuesday, they should be in this team.

‘All our pre-season games so far have been littered with inconsistencies so if you want to play let’s see you play well, that is normally the best way.

‘If you look at Conor Chaplin at the minute, how could you leave him out of the team?

‘That is not me putting Conor in, that is Conor putting himself in, it’s logical isn’t it?

‘There have been other good performances, I am not just singling Conor out, Nigel Atangana is another. I am just saying that is how to get into the team.

‘We have all got plans for teams but possession of a shirt is huge because there is only really you that can come out of a team. If you play well it normally takes care of itself.

‘At Bognor we came away with a bit of criticism from myself and Leam – that’s the only people I am really bothered about – and then there were plaudits after Coventry.

‘Woking will be a strong side under Garry Hill.

‘He has a good reputation in management for producing really good teams.

‘But we are going there to win a game of football.

‘We are not going over like a typical team saying “it’s just pre-season”. It is but we want to win.

‘We are a League Two club and want to get out of this division, we are expected to win.’

Gary Roberts will be in the Pompey frame tonight following injury, although Matt Tubbs, Adam McGurk and Adam Barton are struggling.

He added: ‘We have picked up too many injuries for my liking.

‘It might be a lack of fitness from the players or it might be the training is a little bit over the top.

‘You can blame whatever you want but it is the same way we have always trained.

‘If you want to be a footballer you must be fit. To get fit you must train hard so we are picking up a couple of injuries, one or two too many, which is disappointing.’

Meanwhile, Pompey are continuing to work on securing a loan deal for Matt Clarke, who will be in tonight’s squad.

Cook said: ‘We are working our way towards that.

‘We feel there is a deal to be done but I am still having chats with Mick McCarthy so it’s a case of watch this space.’