Curbishley expecting tough trip to Pompey

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ALAN CURBISHLEY, the Charlton Athletic manager, fears his team are about to discover the perils of life at the top of the First Division.

ALAN CURBISHLEY, the Charlton Athletic manager, fears his team are about to discover the perils of life at the top of the First Division.

The Addicks travel to Portsmouth today in the first of two away games in succession, with Curbishley expecting a difficult time on the south coast. "We have got two tough away games coming up, starting with Portsmouth," he said. "It will be very hard and I'm sure it will be a great atmosphere. The team at the top are coming to visit and they will be looking to turn us over." On Tuesday, Charlton face what is arguably an even tougher examination when they travel to Ipswich.

Curbishley's men will be hoping for some assistance from bottom-placed Tranmere Rovers, who entertain second-placed Manchester City at Prenton Park. City are only separated by goal difference from the leaders, but Rovers' assistant manager, Kevin Sheedy, believes his side can build on their midweek Worthington Cup win over Oxford United.

"If we had beaten QPR last Saturday we would have been mid-table where they [QPR] are, and they would have been down at the bottom instead of us," Sheedy said. "It's as tight as that. If you put a run of wins together you can start to climb the table and be looking at getting into the play-offs."

The Swindon Town manager, Jimmy Quinn, is not relishing his side's visit to Craven Cottage after seeing third-placed Fulham's win over West Bromwich Albion in midweek.

"Fulham looked very strong. They are a quality outfit with good players all over the pitch," Quinn said. "We are going to have to give them the respect they deserve and hopefully we will be able to try and nick something from the game."

Birmingham City may have problems sustaining their own promotion challenge ahead of today's visit to St Andrew's by Crystal Palace. The Blues have a lengthy injury list with Peter Ndlovu, Paul Furlong, Darren Russell, Steve Robinson, Simon Marsh, Stan Lazaridis, Martin Grainger, Simon Charlton and Gary Ablett all out, leaving their manager, Trevor Francis, struggling to name a full side.

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