Tomorrow night we make the long trip down to Portsmouth for the first time in 37 years.
The last time our coaches hauled fans down to the south coast was 2nd November 1982. I didn’t go, what with it being a fortnight shy of my third birthday, but doubtless some of those making the journey tomorrow did go. They weren’t rewarded; we lost 4-1.
It was a rare defeat in the first six months of a season that saw us on course for promotion at Christmas and much of our success had been built on a platform of solidity at the back. Trevor Peake partnered Steve Thompson and both played that afternoon and both went on to play top flight football.
Tomorrow night, we won’t have the same stability at the back. With Michael Bostwick a month away from fitness and Cian Bolger rightly suspended for the next three matches, Michael Appleton has a big call to make. He’s going to have to pitch a makeshift central defender alongside Jason Shackell.
What it does is open up a real opportunity for someone to stake a claim for a first team place. At least three players could feature at Fratton Park who have not started a game in recent weeks, with two possible without a league start between them this season.
We look at the different combinations he might try, along with the pros and cons of such changes. Make sure you have your say on the final page too.