Redknapp desperate to ring the changes

February 27, 2007

Harry Redknapp believes some of his players deserve to be dropped - but is struggling for likely replacements against Chelsea on Saturday.

The Portsmouth boss was livid after Sunday's 3-0 defeat at Blackburn dropped his team down to eighth in the Barclays Premiership.

And he knows they are likely to go lower after meeting the champions and new Carling Cup holders Chelsea at Fratton Park.

He wants to ring the changes - but the only one he knows he will make is to replace Glen Johnson at right-back.

Johnson is on loan from the Stamford Bridge club until the end of the season and is forbidden to play against his parent club because of Premier League regulations.

Redknapp said: 'Who can I bring in? Lauren has a thigh muscle tear and is still out, Benjani has a knock and we have a couple out on loan.

'We could do with a bit if a shake-up but the squad is not big enough really. There may be some adjustments.'

The manager sent on Arnold Mvuemba for his first-team debut as a substitute in the second half at Blackburn but will need more experience than the 21-year-old can offer against Chelsea.

Portsmouth skipper Dejan Stefanovic was due to play his first match for three months in a charity game tonight - and he could come back into Redknapp's plans for the weekend.

But the manager warned: 'He still needs games for his match-fitness.'

Redknapp took his entire first team to Dorking after being contacted about the plight of the Surrey non-league club's captain Stewart Vaughan, 28, who is terminally ill with cancer.

Redknapp said: 'We are only too pleased to go and play. We will give all the support we can. It makes the players realise how lucky they are.'

Stefanovic, 32, is back in full training after a knee operation and Pompey's defence clearly need his defensive stability.

Redknapp blasted his team after a shambolic performance at Ewood Park where their defending fell apart and told them the three substitutions he made could have applied to almost anybody in the starting line-up.

Now he could be in the mood to wield the axe with top scorer Kanu, new defender Djimi Traore and sparingly-used Croatian midfielder Niko Kranjcar all desperate to return to the starting line-up on Saturday.

Pompey coach Joe Jordan called the display at Blackburn 'as bad as we have played all season'.

And assistant-manager Tony Adams said: 'Sol Campbell has been fantastic and Linvoy Primus has had the season of his life but when you raise expectations and then fall below them it is very disappointing.'

Recalling Stefanovic against Chelsea after such a long absence would have an element of risk - but Redknapp is upset his side surrendered the chance to move back to sixth in the Premiership so lamely.

And with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal all still to visit Fratton Park this season, Pompey's new ambitions of figuring in next season's UEFA Cup are looking decidedly shaky.

They have won only one of their last eight Premiership matches - losing four - and are down to eighth, their lowest position in the table this season.