Steven Schumacher

Schumacher's Portsmouth Preview

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A sold-out away end at Fratton Park awaits Argyle and manager Steven Schumacher this Saturday – as do unbeaten Portsmouth, who sit second in the Sky Bet League One table.

Managed by Danny Cowley, who is assisted by his brother Nicky, Pompey are one place and two points ahead of Argyle, with the team sides set to renew what has become a very close rivalry.

Three games in a row between the sides ended in 2-2 draws, before Argyle won 1-0 at home to Pompey last season.

Schumacher is more than aware of the recent history between the teams, but he needs no extra incentive to try to continue his side’s own current good form, with Argyle having won their last four league games.

Next for The Pilgrims after meeting Pompey is Ipswich Town, at Home Park – the only side sitting above both Portsmouth and Argyle in the table.

Schumacher, though, is fully focused on the challenge that awaits this weekend, and has been giving Argyle TV chapter and verse about what he knows of Saturday’s opponents.

“Predominantly what they are doing this season is putting people under pressure by getting balls forward and putting good crosses in the box,” Schumacher said. “They are getting it to the forward players and going from there. Players they have signed like Colby Bishop, Joe Pigott and Dane Scarlett have hit the ground running and are playing well.

“In behind, they’ve got [Marlon] Pack and Tom Lowery who are good footballers that can hurt you if you give them time on the ball. And they’ve been solid at the back, so there’s a good balance to their squad at the moment.

“They brought in 12 players, I think, over the summer, so a big turnaround. They’ve changed the system a little bit, and how they are playing. We know it will be the same old tough game. Every time we have been there over the last few years, especially last year, it was a tough game, but an enjoyable one.

“We’ve blown leads there a couple of times, and that hurts. Hopefully we can get ahead this time and get over the line.

“I know Danny and Nicky well. They were on my pro licence course, and I know they are flying as well. It’s going to be a good game.

“The atmosphere is really good at the moment, everyone’s happy. People have smiles on faces because we are in good form.

“We’ll go to Portsmouth full of confidence and we’ll go there trying to win. We want to be the first team to beat them this season. Ipswich are the only unbeaten team. We want to end at least one of their runs.”

Schumacher drew back the curtain a little into what is going into the preparation for Saturday’s game.

Head of Fitness and Conditioning Elliot Turner has been at the forefront, analysing the squad’s action to try to ensure peak fitness, especially in light of a hard-fought win on Tuesday night against Oxford United.

“You have to trust the performance team,” said Schumacher. “That’s where Elliot comes into his own. He tracks all the lads’ data, the intensity they train and play at. Sometimes with the amount of games we’ve played you would we think we have to come off them a bit, but he will say ‘no, we need to top them up’.

“So, the lads will do some extra sprints or bits of work as individuals. You put a bit of trust into that team to make sure we get no injuries. As a coaching staff, we need to be sensible with what we do. We knew Tuesday was quite a physical game, it took a lot of out of us, so the session was about getting the lads out there, getting everyone in an active recovery session, and the lads who didn’t play did a bit extra.

“On Friday, we’ll spend a bit longer on our prep, which is what we do when we have a three-game week.”

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