Pompey wary of threat of battling Blades

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Aaron Mokoena, the Portsmouth defender, has warned his teammates not to take victory over Sheffield United for granted.

Micky Adams’ side arrive at Fratton Park today languishing 23rd in the Championship table and without a win since December.

But Mokoena, who has been instrumental in Portsmouth’s climb to 12th, said: “Nobody is expecting an easy game. Sheffield United are going to be ready to fight for their lives when they come here. They’ll be battling and they’ll be giving everything to get themselves out of trouble.”

Portsmouth, who trail the play-off positions by seven points, have won their last five games without conceding.

“It’s important to keep this run of clean sheets going,” Mokoena added.

“When you are on a run like this you want it to last as long as possible and sometimes you have to find a way to win games that otherwise you might have lost.

“There is a healthy competition among us here and everyone is happy.

Those two things can carry us forward.”

Adams watched Steve Cotterill’s side beat Scunthorpe in midweek.

“It’s an imposing place to go,” the United manager said. “Their crowd create a lot of noise and they’re in good form.

“Scunthorpe caused them some problems but couldn’t take their chances. Portsmouth did.

“Pompey are safe. No doubt about it. In fact they’ll consider themselves to be good outside bets for the top six.”

As the mind games began in earnest ahead of United’s visit, Cotterill insisted that avoiding relegation continues to dominate his thoughts. Not, as Adams, suggested, top-six qualification.

“We are on 47 points now but I don’t know whether that would actually do it,” said Cotterill. “I think it is more likely to be 48 points this year, I don’t think it will be 50 or 52.

“We’re not too far off the play-offs either. You have to set your goals, set your targets and if we fail then we end up being in the top half of the table this year which would still be a huge achievement.”