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Marquis starts: The predicted Portsmouth XI to face Plymouth on Wednesday

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Portsmouth will be raring to return to action after seeing their matches against AFC Wimbledon and Oxford United postponed, a real frustration for Danny Cowley’s men who were in a good vein of form before this Covid disruption.

Going unbeaten in their previous nine league matches, their 4-0 humiliation at home to Ipswich Town seems to have been a real turning point in their season, and are now sitting just three points adrift of the top six going into this match.

However, they are coming up against a very capable side in Plymouth Argyle tomorrow night, a team that were sitting at the top of the third-tier table against all odds not so long ago and have regained their stability after ex-manager Ryan Lowe’s departure to Championship side Preston North End earlier this month.

Quiz: Can you name which club Portsmouth sold these 26 players to?

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David James

To the Pilgrims’ credit, they formally appointed Steven Schumacher before Lowe was confirmed as the new boss of the Lilywhites, and this is something that has seemingly paid dividends with the former managing to turn around their poor recent form with two consecutive wins coming into this tie.

With key man Panutche Camara in fine fettle too, tomorrow’s visitors at Home Park will need to be on their guard if they want to come out on top once again. A draw or victory would extend their unbeaten run to double figures, a significant milestone that will only help to build confidence in the Pompey camp.

But how will manager Cowley set up his side going into this one with a few absentees potentially set to return? We had a go at predicting his lineup ahead of this mouth-watering clash.

Although it would be fascinating to see more of a battle between Alex Bass and Gavin Bazunu in the goalkeeping department, the latter retaining his place would indicate the Republic of Ireland international is thriving and not chopping and changing in this area would probably be Cowley’s preference.

Keeping stability in the backline after four consecutive clean sheets may also be crucial, and this even applies to the wing-backs. Sean Raggett should take a huge amount of credit for this impressive record and guiding the likes of Connor Ogilvie and Kieron Freeman through games, because the latter two’s more orthodox position is out wide.

Both have done more than enough to retain their places, although they will face a tough task with Kieran Agard, Jordan Garrick and the fresh legs of Luke Jephcott to contend with, a real headache for the back three as they look to play their part in earning Bazunu another clean sheet.

Reeco Hackett-Fairchild and Mahlon Romeo resume their positions out wide – and the summer loan addition of Millwall man Romeo seems to be paying dividends for them. Persuading him to drop down to League One level and arrive at Fratton Park was nothing short of a coup and this influence could prove to be crucial in the race for the play-offs.

Moving to the midfield, this was a slightly trickier dilemma to contend with. Welsh international Joe Morrell could be closing in on a return, but with Miguel Azeez playing his part in the recent unbeaten run and 35-year-old Shaun Williams having plenty of time to recover from his previous match, the midfield pairing may also stay the same.

Having the duo there will also give key man Ryan Tunnicliffe time to recover from his lengthy absence, a rest period that may prove to be crucial in his ability to remain fully fit for the remainder of the 2021/22 campaign. The ex-Millwall man being back will be a game-changer for the south-coast side.

In a more advanced position, Marcus Harness was the easiest pick in his lineup as a formidable force going forward at third-tier level. His nine goals and one assist in 21 league appearances this term shows he’s ready for the step up to the Championship, so it would be no surprise to see Blackburn Rovers make an approach for his services next month.

George Hirst is the only man who drops out of the starting lineup, perhaps in preparation for his potential recall by Leicester City. If he isn’t going to be here beyond January, Cowley may as well play John Marquis to focus more on the future – and he lines up alongside Ronan Curtis.


A 21-year-old Reading FC fan and writer who graduated from the University for the Creative Arts in the summer with a degree in Journalism and Media Production. Other topics written about include politics, mental health and education.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Marquis starts: The predicted Portsmouth XI to face Plymouth on Wednesday

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