Jack Ross insists Portsmouth do NOT have an advantage playing the first leg of their League One play-off away from home.
Sunderland host Pompey at the Stadium of Light on Saturday night (KO 7.30pm) after the Black Cats finished fifth following their limp 2-1 defeat to Southend United.
Usually, the advantage is with the side playing at home in the second leg in the tension-filled play-off semi-finals but Ross insists playing at home first is ‘irrelevant’ and stressed it does not mean it’s advantage Portsmouth.
Sunderland limped over the line with just one win in their final seven games and taking just six points from 21.
Ross will this week aim to lift the players at the Academy of Light and inject a spark into the camp, with Sunderland looking leggy and lacking in confidence at Roots Hall.
Sunderland hope to have Aiden McGeady, Lee Cattermole, Lewis Morgan and skipper George Honeyman back available for the semi-final, set to be played in front of another bumper crowd at the Stadium of Light.
Pressed on whether he was disappointed to be playing at home first, Ross said: “No, I think that is irrelevant, I don’t think it makes any difference.
“I didn’t have any preference over the team we played or any preference over it being home or away first because the truth is you have to be better than the opposition over the two games.
“I don’t think it is a major consequence when or where the game is, it is just up to us to be better over the two legs.
“I genuinely hadn’t thought about playing any of the teams or looked at the permutations.
“I hadn’t looked at home or away because we know all about the pressure of these games and what’s at stake, and how close we’ve all been over the course of the season.
“It’s just about who’s going to be better over the two legs now.
“The truth is you have to win three games, or at least find a way of coming through these three games and making sure that you come out the other side with the right result.”