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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug, 25, 2008

Campbell calls for calm as United visit looms

Portsmouth captain Sol Campbell is advising fans against drawing any early conclusions about his team - no matter what happens when Manchester United visit Fratton Park tonight.

Pompey have already taken a 4-0 thrashing at Chelsea, and another beating now would mean a club record sixth Barclays Premier League defeat in a row following their collapse while focused on the FA Cup final towards the end of last season.

United's start to the new campaign has also not been the brightest - a disappointing 1-1 home draw against Newcastle for the English and European champions, who had to rely on penalties to win the FA Community Shield against Pompey at Wembley.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men face a daunting programme, including Chelsea and Liverpool, in the next few weeks - after their European Super Cup tie against Zenit St Petersburg in Monaco on Friday - all without injured star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Campbell can clearly sense some unease among Pompey supporters after the club owner Sacha Gaydamak put the block on any more big transfers, while also selling midfielders Sulley Muntari and Pedro Mendes.

But calm veteran Campbell insisted: 'It would be mad to base too many judgements on the strength of just one match - or even two.

'The league won't settle down until about Christmas, and it will be time to re-evaluate things then. If we stay strong we can stay in the running.

'We've got to assemble a team now and see where we are after the transfer window closes next week. You must stay confident. It is no good telling yourself you can't win this, can't win that.

'Given the right situations, I think we will still do well. There are a lot of teams who can do well this season, and we hope we are one of them.'

Midfielder Niko Kranjcar's ankle injury is the latest blow to hit Portsmouth.

Manager Harry Redknapp will bring in either Armand Traore, on loan from Arsenal, or Jerome Thomas - who has now signed a permanent deal from Charlton - to replace the Croatian on the left.

Whatever the case, both players should figure at some stage tonight, and that could be bad news for £7million winger John Utaka, who has been told he must improve his inconsistent form of last season to become a regular in the side.

Redknapp is also banking on Pompey's fine home record against United holding up. They have won three, drawn one and lost only one of the last five Fratton Park meetings.

The Portsmouth boss said: 'If nothing else, we've got to match United's work-rate.

'That's what we've done every time we've got a good result against them, and that's what we have to do again, or we will be punished by their quality.'

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