Play-offs hold no fears for confident Curtis

POMPEY top scorer Ronan Curtis firmly believes Kenny Jackett’s side have the quality to bury their play-off hoodoo and claim the prize of Championship football on July 13.

The Republic of Ireland international is a certain starter for Friday night’s play-off semi-final first leg against Oxford United at Fratton Park, but the 24-year-old’s sights are already set on Wembley a week on Monday.

Curtis was part of the side that were beaten in the play-off semi-final by Sunderland last season, and he will be very aware that Pompey are yet to win a play-off game. He endured a difficult start to the current campaign which saw him dropped by Jackett at one stage, only to come back and show his best form for Pompey, including a run of eight goals in nine games in November and December.

He said: “We fancy ourselves to do it and win the play-offs.

“We’re fit and raring to go. We’ve been waiting a long time to play again and we’re all clear of Covid-19 now.”

The club saw five players contract coronavirus back in March, with a further two testing positive when training resumed in June. Although none displayed severe symptoms, Curtis said it was a tough time for everyone concerned with Portsmouth.

“That (players testing positive) was heart-breaking because we’re like a family,” added Curtis. “You don’t want to see that. But the last two or three weeks, we’ve been doing tests and everyone has come back clear.”

Curtis has netted 13 goals in all competitions this season, and was rewarded with a new three-and-a-half-year deal in February. He admitted there were offers from other clubs in January but has never wanted to leave a city he is happy to call home, after arriving on the south coast in July 2018.

“They gave me a chance and I’ve played well and got myself a new deal,” said the former Derry City player. “I had a couple of offers last summer and in January but I didn’t want to leave. I have settled in here and love this city.

“The players, the staff, the management and the fans made me feel really, really welcome. I settled in really quickly.”