Pompey must get physical – Grant

After picking up crucial results against Burnley and Sunderland,

then beating Liverpool following a brave defeat by leaders Chelsea,

the hard work was undone with a 2-0 reverse at fellow strugglers

West Ham on Boxing Day. Pompey remain deep in trouble, three points

adrift at the foot of the table and are about to lose some key men

to the African Nations Cup. However, Grant is confident his squad

have what it takes to drag themselves towards safety, but perhaps

need to adopt a different mindset. “We play football, but maybe we

need to be more aggressive – sometimes we are too nice,” said

former Chelsea manager Grant, who took charge following Paul Hart’s

dismissal at the end of November, “Only one team that has been

bottom at Christmas has stayed up, so we need to fight. “It will be

tough, but we can do it.” Grant is full of admiration for Arsene

Wenger’s Gunners – whom he accepts can be “unstoppable” when in top

form. However, captain Cesc Fabregas – who came off the bench to

inspire his side to a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday –

could be out for a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury. The

Pompey boss believes his team can raise their own game on

Wednesday. “We can win against the best sides,” said Grant, who

will be without suspended midfielder Jamie O’Hara. “We beat

Liverpool and played very well against Chelsea. “If we do

everything right, then we can pick up the points even though we are

bottom of the table.” Grant added: “Arsenal play good, quick

football and on their day they are unstoppable. All teams have

strengths and weaknesses, but their strengths are so strong.

“However, we have shown that we can play well against the big teams

and hopefully that will continue against Arsenal.” Despite the

problems both on and off the field at Fratton Park in recent

months, the 54-year-old Israeli is happy to roll his sleeves up and

get on with the job in hand. “They are different challenges, but I

like a challenge,” Grant said. “Believe me, Chelsea was a

challenge, but it is also a big challenge here, too. “I just want

to do my job, take the challenge and succeed with it.” Former

Arsenal striker Kanu has been cleared to face his old club before

heading off to the African Nations Cup, along with Hassan Yebda and

Nadir Belhadj, while Aruna Dindane may also be given dispensation

to play ahead of the tournament in Angola. England international

David James (calf) missed the defeat by West Ham, so Asmir Begovic

could continue in goal. The 22-year-old keeper had a spell on loan

at Championship side Ipswich earlier this season, but is now ready

to stake his claim at Fratton Park. “Being number one is my goal

and I feel confident at the moment I can do that,” Begovic said.

“When you are playing well and things are going okay the confidence

goes up and I just want to keep it going. “I don’t know the

situation with Jamo. “I am just being told it’s game-by-game. But I

always prepare for the games as much as I can and I’m enjoying

playing at the moment. “As long as I’m playing, I want to keep it

that way.” Bosnia-Herzegovina international Begovic added: “My goal

is to be number one here and it is up to the manager and people to

decide what happens next. “I think I can keep getting better, I am

still learning. “It is a top league to play in, but I am really

enjoying it and having fun.”