Peterborough United manager is seeking perfection for the rest of the League One season, starting with the visit of the best team in the division

Ryan De Havilland could start for Posh against Portsmouth. Photo Joe Dent/ De Havilland could start for Posh against Portsmouth. Photo Joe Dent/
Ryan De Havilland could start for Posh against Portsmouth. Photo Joe Dent/
Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson believes his side might have to win their last nine League One games to claim an automatic promotion place.

It’s the size and strength of the three teams currently above Posh in the table – Portsmouth, Derby County and Bolton Wanderers – that persuaded Ferguson to make an unlikely claim. Nine wins would take Posh to 98 points which is the total Ipswich finished on when runners-up last season.

And in a quirk of the fixture scheduling the four top teams are involved in two huge games on Saturday with Posh hosting long-time leaders Pompey at the Weston Homes Stadium (3pm) when second-placed Derby County entertain third-placed Bolton Wanderers at Pride Park.

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Ferguson is backing his players to rise to the occasion in front of a near full house with the visitors bringing close to 4,000 supporters to the game.

Posh boss Darren Ferguson.  Photo Joe Dent/ boss Darren Ferguson.  Photo Joe Dent/
Posh boss Darren Ferguson. Photo Joe Dent/

But he’s respectful of the outstanding job a relatively rookie manager John Mousinho, and his team, have achieved so far this season. They’ve lost just four of 38 League One matches.

Ferguson declined to confirm how he would replace suspended midfielder Hector Kyprianou who starts a two-game ban after collecting a 10th caution of the season in Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Stevenage at London Road.

"I’ve been in the position of battling against much bigger clubs than ours for promotion in this league many times before,” Ferguson, a three-time third tier promotion-winner, said. “And we’ve gone on to outgun them and go up so all I wanted to do this time around was make sure we were in a position to challenge and we’ve done that. We might have to win all nine games we have left though because we are chasing three very good teams.

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"Perhaps we haven’t been given the credit we deserve for winning promotion from this league in this past. Compared to some we are not a massive club with a massive budget. Bolton were live on TV the other night and still had 17,000 fans at the game and that’s what we are up against.

Portsmouth manager John Mousinho. Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images.Portsmouth manager John Mousinho. Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images.
Portsmouth manager John Mousinho. Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images.

"But we relish the challenge and we are looking forward to tomorrow. We have enough players here who have played enough big games to relax and enjoy the occasion. We will go out and play our game and hope it’s enough to win three points. Trying to grind out a win tomorrow won’t get the job done though. We will have to deliver a top performance to beat a team who have been the best in the division over the first 38 games.

"They are a very good team. They are very effective at what they do and that have threats all over the pitch. They are the league leaders so of course it will be tough, but I would imagine they are expecting a tough game as well.

"They’ve had a great season so far and the manager has done a brilliant job. It’s a big job to take on especially when it’s your first as a manager because the expectations of a big club and a big fanbase are high. He has managed those expectations superbly.

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"It’s an easy game for me tomorrow now the tactical side is done. I can just say to the players ‘just go out and enjoy it.’

"Having played on Wednesday it’s one day less in which to recover, but I don’t be believe that will be an issue. The lads were tested yesterday and the results were very good. They will be fresh enough as they are fit lads.

"We have good options for Hector’s position. We have Ryand De Havilland who can play in there as can Jadel Katongo. I could also tweak the way the way we play in midfield as I’ve done before by playing two number eights. We have good options and our substitutes have been making big impacts in recent games as well which is pleasing.

"When we recruit players we try and find ones who are comfortable in several positions and Jadel is an example of that. He’s played in three different positions now.”

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De Havilland is probably favourite to start in place of Kyprianou tomorrow, but he has only started two League One matches since joining from Barnet last summer. His last start was in a 1-1 draw at Carlisle on October 3, and he was taken off at half-time in his other start, a 1-1 draw at home to Leyton Orient in September.