PORTSMOUTH face a test of their Championship credentials with the visit of Barnsley in the FA Cup fourth round at Fratton Park on Saturday.
Pompey are just six points off the top of League One with games in hand on many of the teams above them, and promotion is the clear priority after missing out in the play-offs last season.
Barnsley claimed the second automatic promotion place in May last year and manager Kenny Jackett hopes the potential of a fifth round game against a Premier League giant will be motivation for his players.
“We’re taking on a Championship side on Saturday and the potential for what lies after that is our motivation,” said Jackett, who has already guided his side to the semi-finals of the Leasing.com Trophy this week.
“Barnsley have been very good since the new manager’s been in there and looked effective, especially going forward.
“But these cup ties are one-off games and players can produce big performances against sides from a few levels up. That’s the appeal of them.
“It’s a test for us and one we should enjoy – it would be great to get through in a cup competition for the second time this week.”
Jack Whatmough came through 90 minutes in the midweek win over Scunthorpe but Jackett is unlikely to throw the 23-year-old into his second game in a week after almost a year out.
The club have ensured his rehabilitation was handled with the utmost care and they will continually to assess how he reacts to training and playing as he works his way back to full fitness.
Jackett added: “He played well and it didn’t look like he’d been out for nearly a year – which is credit to him.
“I thought he handled the game impressively and didn’t let anyone down, but we obviously have to be sensible with him. You have to be careful about when he trains and how much he does, to make sure his workload is spot on.
“But he’s generally in very good shape and the knee has been good since Tuesday – it’s just about using our common sense.”
• Cameron McGeehan is unavailable to play against his parent club and James Bolton is a doubt after picking up a thigh strain in midweek.