Paul Cook weighs up options after Ben Davies’ recovery

Ben Davies. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ben Davies. Picture: Joe Pepler

Paul Cook will take the common-sense approach on Ben Davies for tonight’s Capital One Cup clash with Reading.

The former Derby man appeared to be ruled out of Saturday’s showdown with Morecambe, only to make a shock recovery from what was first believed to be a hamstring strain at Crawley.

With Pompey lacking in cover at right-back, Cook was left with few possible options to replace him with Gareth Evans, Enda Stevens and Ben Close all under consideration.

But Davies’ return saved Cook a tough decision.

He said: ‘It wasn’t a case of trying to kid anyone.

‘It was more him being ruled out by everyone else and me not ruling him in!

‘It wasn’t a risk playing him. We will never risk players.

‘From thinking it was a hamstring, it became more of a back complaint.

‘Once we knew it wasn’t the hamstring, we knew he had a good chance of playing.

‘He trained on Friday and came through that, so it was just a case of making sure he was okay in the morning.

‘He started feeling it later on in the game, so it is something we will manage.

‘Common sense will dictate what we do with that one.’

With Danny Hollands and Close forming the central-midfield partnership in the 2-1 success over Derby County in the last round, Cook looks set to go for a similar selection policy.

But he is happy with the competition for places and does not feel he is fielding a weakened side.

He said: ‘They are really good players. If we started at Luton on Saturday with Hollands and Close, would anyone blink? I wouldn’t.

‘The competition is 

‘Michael Doyle and Nigel Atangana were lucky to start the season.

‘What’s been our best result? For me, it’s Plymouth away because we got three points away from home.

‘In other people’s eyes, it would be Derby at home and the two teams were completely different.

‘What does it tell us? We have got good players.’

Cook is also looking for his team to make a better start to the contest than they did at home to Morecambe.

He said: ‘You sometimes sit on a Friday teatime wondering what will happen the next day but I never envisaged that.

‘This game shouldn’t surprise you but it continually does.

‘Even if you don’t start well, you don’t normally find yourselves 3-0 down – especially at home.

‘In our enthusiasm to get back into the game, we were killing ourselves.

‘The lads needed to realise that and get back to basics.

‘We had to make sure Morecambe had to come through our two defensive midfielders to hurt us.

‘Their chances were coming when they were already beyond those midfielders.

‘We rectified that problem at half-time and I thought we deserved to come back.

‘But we don’t want to be 3-0 down again.’