KENNY JACKETT believes the competition for places in his Pompey first XI will help ensure his players go into their clash at home to Exeter City with the right attitude.
While the club’s priority is promotion to the Championship, they are still in two cups and on Tuesday face League Two opponents in the last four of the Leasing.com Trophy.
And the fact they are just 90 minutes from a return to Wembley in a competition they memorably won in front of a full house at the home of football a year ago, reassures Jackett his side will treat Exeter with the respect they deserve.
“Everyone knows that reaching the Championship is our priority, but it’s a real opportunity for both teams,” said Jackett. “We’ve always changed the team in this competition and given chances to one or two younger players.
“There will be some alterations against Exeter and those guys who have been pushing from the bench have to be ready.
“We’ll need some energy from different players coming into the team, but we’ll be doing whatever we can to win.
“The players all have a really good attitude and you always see that competitive spirit, which we’ve witnessed during the course of the season.”
The Grecians have enjoyed a successful League Two campaign, only being kept off top spot by Swindon Town on goal difference.
While they can’t match Pompey’s recent run of ten wins in their last 11 games, they have lost just twice in the league since the beginning of November.
“We certainly won’t be underestimating Exeter – they’ve got 63 points from 33 games in League Two and are only second to Swindon on goal difference,” added Jackett, who is expected to make several changes from the side that beat Shrewsbury on Saturday.
“They’re a side from a level down and so there is an expectation for us to do well, but that’s something we have to cope with.
“Winning the competition last season was great and it was a fantastic day for the club at Wembley.
“Now it’s come around very quickly again and we’re one step from getting back there, so we’ll be giving everything.”