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This time last week Pompey were wondering how to stop a run of three straight defeats. Now they go to play MK Dons bidding to complete a run of three straight wins.
Victories over Scunthorpe and Yeovil have lifted the Blues into mid-table, but most agree a visit to the Stadium MK will be an altogether-stiffer test than the two games which have yielded six priceless points.
Karl Robinson's team have won five of their opening 10 games and sit fifth in the table - and could go up to second with a win. Pompey, on the other hand, could be in the top half if they win - but will be dangerously close to the bottom four again if they lose.
This is a new ground for the Blues, one where they will find a big wide-open pitch that Michael Appleton believes the hosts will use to full effect in putting his team to the test. One Pompey player with special reason to do well is Izale McLeod, who scored a goal every other game during a 120-match spell at MK Dons.
McLeod, who has begun his Pompey career with a similar strike rate, told The News: 'Going to MK was the making of my career. I left Derby as a young pro at 19 and went to Milton Keynes to play regular football. I ended up having three great years there, where I came into the spotlight goalscoring-wise. I have fond memories and had a great period of my career there.
‘I played against them last season in the cup and scored but I haven’t been back there since I left. It’s going to be nice to play. I live in MK, have a lot of friends there and I know a few of the players. I’ve lived there for eight years now and have my business there, so I know people around and about.
‘Everyone says they remember me from those days. It’s a nice place to be. Everyone is coming up to me about the game, but hopefully we can get the win. It’s a special game for me but, at the end of the game, I hope it’s a special one for Pompey. It’s nice to go back to former clubs and it’s going to be a nice occasion there and I will have loads of friends at the game. But to top it off we need to get a good result.’
McLeod is expected to continue his blossoming partnership with Wes Thomas up front after Appleton played down fears Bournemouth could recall Thomas early from his loan spell.
Luke Rodgers and Josh Thompson are both still sidelined by injury but Lubomir Michalik and Gabor Gyepes are both available - unlike next week, when international duty will take both away from Blues duties, something which sparked a failed bid by Appleton to get the home clash wirh Crewe postponed. At least Pompey are in a position where international duties are causing them a headache.
Pompey will also be without Darel Russell, out with a hamstring problem, so Johnny Ertl is set to keep his place in midfield. Akos Buzsaky could make his debut but is likely to start on the bench again.
For MK, Ryan Lowe missed training on Thursday due to illness. Gary MacKenzie has resumed light training after missing the last four games with a groin injury but this fixture will come too soon. Defenders Mathias Doumbe and Adam Chicksen and midfielders Alan Smith, James O'Shea and Scott Allan, on loan from West Brom and awaiting his first start for the Dons, are options for manager Karl Robinson should he wish to make any changes to his team.
Our prediction: MK Dons 1 Pompey 1
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