The Portsmouth view on Denver Hume and what Sunderland can expect from Danny Cowley's side in League One fixture

Sunderland are preparing to face Portsmouth in League One this weekend – but what can the Black Cats expect from the Blues?

Pompey beat Lee Johnson’s side 4-0 in October’s reverse fixture at Fratton Park, where terrible weather conditions were a factor.

Since then results have been mixed for Portsmouth, who are ninth in the table and five points off a play-off place.

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To find out more, we caught up with Pompey writer Jordan Cross from our sister title The News to get the inside track:

Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley.

We saw Portsmouth beat Sunderland convincingly at Fratton Park – how have Pompey fared since?

JC: “I think Pompey have been keen to stress in the build-up to this game that they don’t believe that result will have any bearing on what happens this weekend, given the playing conditions.

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“For Pompey they lost a few games on the back of that Sunderland game but then put a run of six wins together going into December and really it’s just been a bit inconsistent.

“Play-offs is still the ambition for them this season but the issues are in the forward department.

“They have the third best defensive record in the division but in terms of scoring goals only Shrewsbury and the bottom three have scored fewer and Pompey have blanked in three of their last five in the league.”

What system will they play?

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JC: “Cowley started with a 4-2-3-1 earlier in the season and moved to a 3-4-1-2 with wing-backs.

“He wanted to just bolster things up by putting a third defender in, but Pompey then went on their kind of worst run of the season.

Danny Cowley was adamant that it wasn’t the formation, he stuck with it and when he started to get players back it worked quite well with the wing-backs.

“We haven’t got a natural left wing-back, Reeco Hackett has been playing there but they have looked solid defensively.”

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We’ve heard Pompey are interested in Denver Hume – what’s the latest on that?

JC: “Danny Cowley has a good relationship with the press down here and chants openly as far as he can do about targets.

“He was quite circumspect about Denver Hume which is unusual for him.

“He has admitted that he hasn’t got a natural left wing-back.

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Connor Ogilvie can play left-back or has played on the left of a defensive three, but he’s not an orthadox left-back so Reeco Hackett has been prefered as the more attacking player in that position.”

Who have been Pompey’s key players this season?

JC: “Gavin Bazunu has been outstanding, a Republic of Ireland international on loan from Manchester City.

“Sean Raggett has been impressive consistently at centre-half, the sort of head it, kick it type, and Connor Ogilvie has surprised a few by playing on the left of a defensive trio.

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“At the other end of the pitch Pompey haven’t quite hit their straps.

“The man to watch out for, though, would be Marcus Harness who is having his best season at Pompey and is on ten goals this season – he went on a run of eight goals in 12 games.”

Finally, what’s your predicted line-up?

JC: “3-4-1-2, Bazunu; Carter, Raggett, Ogilvie; Romeo, Morrell, Williams, Hackett; Harness; Hurst, Walker.”

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