Rekik: Staying alive is upping survival fever

Karim Rekik insists Pompey will stay up if they win their final two matches
Karim Rekik insists Pompey will stay up if they win their final two matches

The odds are stacked against them and the football world have written them off.

But Pompey’s Championship stay of execution continues into tomorrow’s meeting with Derby at Fratton Park.

And the longer that goes on, the more Karim Rekik believes the most improbable of Great Escapes can be achieved.

Tomorrow really is survival Saturday for Michael Appleton’s side.

With Pompey carrying a far superior goal difference over their rivals, Bristol City need to pick up two points from their remaining couple of games to condemn the Blues – who are five points behind them – to League One.

The Robins entertain out-of-form Barnsley at Ashton Gate tomorrow, with the Tykes going into the game on a miserable run of one win from their past 13.

But on-loan defender Rekik is sensing late momentum in his team’s season going into their clash.

Back-to-back wins for just the second time this season have kept Pompey alive – for now.

Rekik believes Pompey’s determination to keep the fight going is upping the ante on Derek McInnes’ men – and can see them wilting under the strain in the run-in.

The 17-year-old now actually reckons a couple of wins will have him and his team celebrating a miracle.

Rekik said: ‘It’s a big occasion tomorrow and we have a chance to win.

‘Now the fans are getting a feeling that we can stay up. And the other teams are seeing us coming and know the pressure is on them. They are stressing.

‘We just need to win our two games left and I think we will be safe.

‘I think we have a great chance still. We have to win those two games and then we will see.

‘We need to focus on ourselves but now I just want to win and I just want to stay up. I want that feeling.

‘The spirit is very good and the players have the feeling we can stay up now. So until that is impossible there is the spirit we can do it.’

Rekik has made his mark at Pompey in the seven games since his arrival from Manchester City.

A coolness on the ball which belies his youth has been a hallmark of his game.

The Dutchman has two games remaining of his temporary spell at the club.

He isn’t getting wrapped up in thoughts of a return next season, with Pompey fighting for their life.

Rekik said: ‘I just enjoy playing football, I enjoy playing for this team and I enjoy winning games.

‘The club’s problems off the pitch are not a problem for me.

‘I don’t look at the future. I am here now and I am looking at those two games until the end of the season

‘I want to win those two games and I want to stay up – that’s the important thing for me now.’

A stint at Pompey has given Rekik the chance to sample the club’s fans at close quarters.

Their reputation proceeds them, but that hasn’t stopped the defender from being taken by the fervour of their backing.

Their passion and its importance quickly became evident after his arrival.

Rekik said: ‘I have been surprised with the fans.

‘In the first game I was on the bench and we were away at Coventry.

‘All I could hear was them for the whole time. I was very surprised by it.

‘I like it and it’s fantastic to play for these fans. They can make a difference.

‘If they stand behind us and scream for us like they do and push us forward it makes a difference – a massive difference.’