Pompey host Lincoln City to Fratton Park on Saturday with the primary goal of keeping their top spot in League One.
The Blues climbed to the summit with a thrilling 3-2 win against fellow promotion contenders Barnsley in midweek, putting down a true marker and making their opponents sit up and take notice.

Their Oakwell success came after a solid draw at Derby and an eye-catching 3-1 win at Peterborough, both of which are projected to be in or near the promotion hunt by the end of the season.

However, how a team follows up such triumphs against some of the division’s so-called lesser sides is a true litmus test of its promotion credentials.

That is the task that confronts John Mousinho and his team, who have already been frustrated at home by Bristol Rovers and Cheltenham Town this season.

So the question is whether he sticks with the team that dominated Barnsley in the first half on Tuesday, or whether he shakes things up and catches opposition number Mark Kennedy off guard with a few surprises.

Here’s what we believe the Pompey manager will do.
Portsmouth Head Coach John Mousinho during the EFL Sky Bet League 1 match between Barnsley and Portsmouth on September 19, 2023 at Oakwell, Barnsley, England.
Will Norris plays in goal.

As Barnsley piled on the pressure in the second half on Tuesday, the 30-year-old will be dissatisfied with his handling of Callum Sykes’ goal. Norris, on the other hand, remains Pompey’s No. 1.

Joe Rafferty is the right-back.

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Following his three-match suspension, the Scouser was restored to the starting XI at Barnsley in midweek, and it was as if he’d never been away. The former Preston man showed no signs of rustiness as he returned to the side with ease. With Zak Swanson unable due to family obligations, he is a lock to start against the Imps.

Regan Poole, centre-back 1 Pompey look considerably more assured with the former Lincoln defender in their ranks. He’ll be looking forward to his first game against his previous team.

Centre-back 2: Conor Shaughnessy
The former Burton man had the odd wobble in the second half against Barnsley as he showed he’s human after all. That’s the first time Pompey fans seen that from the surprise package of their season to date. But it won’t be enough to see him drop to the bench against Lincoln.

Jack Sparkes: Left-back

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Mr Reliable Connor Ogilvie is expected to miss the visit of the Imps after picking up a groin strain at Oakwell. That opens the door for Jack Sparkes to finally show what he can do in that position. The former Exeter man has managed a decent bit of game time since his summer arrival. That’s mostly been further forward as the Blues look to utilise his attacking strengths. Now he must demonstrate his defensive capabilities in a back line that is the second meanest in the division to date.

Midfield 1 – Marlon Pack
Once again showed his importance to the team with a towering performance against Barnsley in midweek. Keep it up, Marlon!

Joe Morrell is the second midfielder.
The previously suspended Morrell, like Rafferty, returned to the side at Oakwell like a duck to water. Loves to dig in and perform all the grunt work. That may be required once more against the Imps, who will want to make things difficult for the hosts. But he’ll have to retain his cool.

Paddy Lane, right wing
The Northern Ireland international scored brilliantly against Barnsley, demonstrating to Pompey fans what he’s all about. at a nonstop, energetic first half, he was running on fumes at the interval. Is certain to preserve his position in the team for the Imps’ visit.

No10: Alex Robertson

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There might be a temptation to rest the on-loan Manchester City youngster given his exertions against Barnsley and Derby – plus the fact Tino Anjorin is waiting in the wings and Chrsitian Saydee is closing in on a return. Yet neither of them two are likely to be thrown in as they play catch-up fitness-wise. The experiment of playing Gavin Whyte there against Posh didn’t work either. Not that those factors will matter too much when Robertson is proving his class on a consistent basis.

Left-wing: Abu Kamara
With summer addition Gavin Whyte still finding his feet at Fratton Park, you have to wonder if John Mousinho may be tempted to change things up a little for the visit of Lincoln. Kamara has been in good form recently and could get the nod. Tino Anjorin, too, must be getting close to a start.

Colby Bishop is the lone striker.
On Tuesday night, he scored his fifth goal of the season from the penalty spot. The former Accrington Stanley player has three goals in three games. It’s simple: if Bishop is fit, he starts. It’s really that simple.

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