Pulis ready for tough Pompey test

Portsmouth, crippled by financial worries, are rooted to the bottom

of the Premier League, but they claimed a morale-boosting 4-1

victory over their bitter rivals Southampton in the FA Cup last

weekend. Pulis said: “They looked relaxed and played some good

football in the second half. It was as though the shackles were

off. “Despite their problems, they still have an enormous squad to

call on and they are all seasoned professionals. I am surprised

Portsmouth are not doing better. “They are competitive and it will

be as hard a game as we will get all season. ” Pulis has some

sympathy for his managerial counterpart Avram Grant, the former

Chelsea boss. “It is difficult for him,” he said. “I have been at

clubs that have been struggling and right up to the wall. You are

living from day to day. “But the players have pulled together and

got stronger. They have worked even harder to get the results.”

Pulis looked poised to bring in Portsmouth goalkeeper David James

at one stage during January – and he still believes the veteran is

England’s finest. The Welshman expects James to maintain his form

with the World Cup in South Africa looming on the horizon. Pulis

said: “He will want to prove to Fabio Capello he should be on that

plane. His main objective is to play well. “I think he is an

excellent goalkeeper and on his day is as good as if not better

than most in this league.”