PORTSMOUTH head into their crunch clash against Coventry on Tuesday with Kenny Jackett believing both clubs will be fighting it out for automatic promotion come May.
Pompey are on a record-breaking run with nine consecutive wins in all competitions, while Coventry are unbeaten in 12 since they lost at Shrewsbury in mid-December.
The two sides played out an incredible 3-3 draw at Fratton Park back in August, the Sky Blues fighting back from 3-1 down despite having two players sent off.
A win in the reverse fixture being played at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s ground would mean Pompey leapfrog Coventry, a game that is sure to fully test both sides’ promotion credentials.
“They’ve only lost three league matches all season, which is a big achievement,” said Jackett, “although they have had a high number of draws.
“We’re very close to them in the table, which makes it an even more interesting game. We’ll look forward to going there.”
On the game back in August, Jackett added: “We were in control in the fixture at Fratton Park, but conspired to go from 3-1 up to 3-3. We were disappointed not to get the details right.
“But I do feel that both sides are of the required standard to finish the season strongly and really attack the top sides in the league.
“We’ve given ourselves the opportunity to call this is a big contest – rather than sitting in mid-table and planning for next year.”
Since the defeat at MK Dons in December, Pompey have won five and drawn one of their last six on their travels in all competitions, a marked improvement on their away form earlier in the campaign. Jackett believes this is more down to the players’ confidence, rather than a dramatic upturn in performance levels.
“We played well in certain games, but couldn’t quite get over the line in terms of the result,” said Jackett, whose side have lost six away in the league while remaining unbeaten at home.
“There were key mistakes, which aren’t acceptable, although sometimes the performance can be similar and yet the outcome is different.
“I don’t think there’s been a big difference, although there has been more consistency and the players having confidence helps.”
The game will come too soon for Andy Cannon who missed out on the win at Tranmere with a glute injury, but Oli Hawkins is expected to be back in the squad.
• Goalkeeper Petar Durin has left Portsmouth by mutual consent. The 18-year-old Croatia youth international arrived at Fratton Park in the summer of 2018, but failed to make an appearance for the first team.