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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 18, 2006

Cole set for Pompey debut in Carling Cup

League Two minnows Mansfield will need to stop Andy Cole and Lomana LuaLua when unbeaten Premiership leaders Portsmouth visit Field Mill on Tuesday night.

Pompey boss Harry Redknapp is likely to rest high-profile signings Sol Campbell, David James and Glen Johnson, as well as strikers Kanu and Benjani for the Carling Cup second-round tie.

But he can still field an star-studded line-up, with Cole and LuaLua set to form a new-look strikeforce.

Redknapp, due to feature in Tuesday night's Panorama BBC television programme which investigates alleged corrupt practices in English football, insists he is 'one million per cent innocent' of any wrong-doing and has threatened to take legal advice.

And he claims he is more interested in watching Cole's first-team debut after signing the 35-year-old marksman for £500,000 from Manchester City.

He could also award places in the starting line-up to Portugal midfielder Manuel Fernandes, who could make his loan move from Benfica a club-record £7 million permanent deal when he has proved his recovery from a groin injury.

And £2.5 million Croatia star Nikola Kranjcar and on-loan Cameroon winger Rodolph Douala should also feature after debuting for the reserves last week.

Redknapp said: 'Andy Cole will definitely play at Mansfield and I would like to get another look at Kranjcar and Fernandes, who are both top, top footballers.

'I'll be in the dug-out and focusing on the game. All this other business is total rubbish and it is almost farcical that I've been targeted by another so-called major investigation. I'm fed up with it and it won't stop here, believe-you-me.'

Substitute Lualua was the match-winner when Pompey went top of the Premiership with a 1-0 win at Charlton on Saturday and the forward is sticking by his claims the side could contest a place in Europe in this season despite Redknapp's call for calm after four wins in five games - and no goals conceded.

LuaLua, who has been left out of the starting line-up because of an ankle injury picked up in April, scored just 10 minutes after coming on at The Valley and said: 'It's wonderful how things have gone after last season.

'It's amazing how things have changed. Obviously we've brought in quality, experienced players - people who have been there and done it - and the future is really good.

'We're really doing well and we believe in ourselves more.

'We're capable of aiming for Europe - and I definitely think we can do that. I can go on and on about Harry. He's the top man and a great manager to play for. You can see what he's doing here.

'This is the place to be. I'm just trying to carry on from where I left off last season but I'm not really fit yet, just about 75-80% at the moment.

'I need another two or three games to get my fitness and sharpness going but, the more I get to play, the quicker I'll get my fitness back.'

Meanwhile, Portsmouth have released Croatian striker Ivica Mornar from his contract.

The former Anderlecht forward was on loan at French club Rennes last season but has been sidelined with hamstring trouble so far this term.