MATCH PREVIEW: Portsmouth v Bristol Rovers

GasCast Match Previews by Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers travel to Portsmouth this week staring relegation in the face.

Rovers were beaten by MK Dons in midweek that saw them fall to the bottom of League One, nine points off safety with three to play.

Results have been poor all season, with all three permanent managers having astonishingly similar records in charge at the Memorial Stadium.

Ben Garner, Paul Tisdale and Joey Barton all managed 3 wins each and with Barton the man in charge with relegation looming, the former Fleetwood boss has revealed his plans for the summer and beyond.

“I’m recruiting next year and there are players who’ve left that are leaders, like (Tony) Craig and (Jonson) Clarke-Harris, they’re leaders in different ways,” Barton told BristolLive.

“You have to replace those personnel, you can’t ask lads to step up from non-league or under-23 leagues. I get the modern-era of football where defenders don’t have to be able to defend it’s just about if they can play and the same with goalkeepers.

“But that’s just nonsense, it’s from people who don’t understand the game. That might be the case for Pep Guardiola and that who are spending £70 million on players, but we’re in the third tier of English football.

“There are certain things you don’t need, just a good team on the pitch. You don’t need all of these developing kids, it’s nonsense.

“This is a tough division and you’ve got to be physical and the one we’re going into next season is even tougher, it’s going to be a scrap.

“We need to build a team that’s capable of meeting the physical challenge. For some of these boys, it’s the biggest football club they’ll play for.

“I’m going to be in charge of recruitment, nobody else is going to butt in, it will all stop with me from this moment on.”

After losing the appeal on Ed Upson’s red card against Lincoln, meaning the midfielder missed the loss to MK, Upson may be in contention to return to the side. Alex Rodman is also expected to retain his place in the side.

Portsmouth go into the game still looking for a place in the play offs with three games to go.

Pompey were well on course for a place in the top six but a four-match winless run including a loss to then bottom of the table Swindon has seen Danny Cowley’s side fall to eighth, one point off the play offs.

Cowley took over a month ago after Pompey fell off the pace under previous boss Kenny Jackett and has said the criticism of his side has been fair over the past four games.

“It makes it very hard for us to get into the top six, but it’s not impossible and we’ll go right to the bitter end,” Cowley told the club’s website.

“We’ll be relentless in our work and our focus. We’ll be determined and resilient, but it’s fair that we get criticism for this game because we weren’t good enough at both ends of the pitch.

“We’re obviously disappointed – that’s an understatement. We haven’t done well enough in the past four games and have to accept that.

Cowley will be without Jack Whatmough who is serving the second of his four game ban meaning Paul Downing or Rasmus Nicolaisen will play centre back. Cowley may also opt to make a couple more changes to the side that lost 3-1 at Swindon in midweek.

Lineup Predictions:

Portsmouth Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray (GK); Johnson, Raggett, Downing, Daniels; Naylor, Close; Harness, Byers, Curtis; Marquis

Score Predictions:

Mets: Portsmouth 1-1 The Gas

Simon: Portsmouth 2-1 The Gas

Max and Sam: Portsmouth 3-0 The Gas