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Whitney: We will relish Pompey atmosphere

18 August 2017

Jon Whitney says his team will relish playing in front of a big crowd at Fratton Park this weekend.

The Saddlers travel to newly-promoted Portsmouth tomorrow hoping to make it back-to-back wins in League One following a dramatic 2-1 victory over Oldham.

Kenny Jackett’s Pompey sit one place below Walsall in the embryonic league table, having also won one and lost one of their first two matches.

The South Coast club’s 2-0 opening-day win against Rochdale attracted over 18,000 at Fratton Park – and another healthy gate is expected for the Saddlers’ visit.

The 119-year-old stadium is renowned for its atmosphere – and Whitney believes a large crowd could inspire his players.

“It’s usually a really good atmosphere down there,” said the 46-year-old.

“It’s one of those stadiums that lifts you. I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure the players are too.

“We do mention how we can use that atmosphere ourselves and it’s much better than playing in front of just a few thousand like we do at some away games.

“We know it will lift them, but we know what to expect.

“Their adrenaline will be flowing early in the game and we’ll have to match that energy and see if we can play our football.

“It’s a great stadium with a lot of history and I think we can use that atmosphere as fuel for us as well.”

Portsmouth are third favourites to win promotion to the Championship this term, and have a manager in Jackett who knows what it takes to get out of this league.

“If you look at the manager and the experience he’s got, I’ve got the utmost respect for him,” Whitney added.

“Kenny wants energy and work-ethic, players to commit in the final third and his defenders to be resolute and defenders first and foremost.

“I’ve watched three of their games and they’ve got a good attacking threat. They play a 4-4-1-1 and do the basics really well.

“They’ve got Naismith up top, Pitman and Chaplin can be a threat. In midfield they’ve got experience with Baker, they’ve got a young lad at the back in Whatmough, Burgess gives them some experience.

“I know they’ve lost Holmes-Dennis to a long-term injury and there are a few changes within their camp and I think he’s just trying to move things around.

"They’ve one of the favourites. When you look at what they’ve got and the fan base they’ve got as well, they’re one of the big hitters in this league.

"But it’d be nice for us to go and upset them.”


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