Sheringham enjoys life at the top with Portsmouth table-toppers

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The Independent Football

Teddy Sheringham and Steve Stone, have urged Portsmouth's fans to savour the highs of what might yet still be a roller-coaster Premiership ride despite the addition of the Chelsea midfielder Alexei Smertin on loan for the season to fuel the optimism of the club.

The former Manchester United and Tottenham veteran Sheringham, 37, hit a hat-trick after Aston Villa reject Stone, 32, opened the scoring as newly promoted Pompey beat Bolton 4-0 to go to the top of the table on Tuesday night.

The chant "We're going to win the league", reverberated around Fratton Park - after just three games of the campaign - and the burden of expectancy is clearly a worry for the club's manager Harry Redknapp, who has spent just £3m while putting together a mix-and-match team for top-flight combat.

"It's a fantastic feeling being top but we are playing Arsenal soon and we know it's an awfully long season," said Redknapp. "We are going to need more new signings on board for when things get tough with injuries and suspensions but let's enjoy what we've done so far."

Alexei Smertin, the Russian international who joined Chelsea for £3.5m from Bordeaux, will complete his season-long loan move to Fratton Park if he obtains a work permit. The 28-year-old was bought by Chelsea as an "investment for the future" and was not expected to get into the first team straight away.

Sheringham, who claimed his first hat-trick since a treble for Manchester United against Southampton three years ago, said: "It's our job to make the supporters enjoy the Premiership experience - and it's only right that they do.

"We are certainly enjoying it so far on the pitch. This is all new to the fans and new to a lot of the players as well, but there is a great atmosphere here and long may it continue."

Portsmouth are in the top division for the first time in 14 years and Sheringham added: "We've made a great start and the more points we get the more our confidence will grow. We know there are plenty of tough games ahead, but we've always known that.

"I'm sure we'll try to add some more new signings... But if we can keep performing like this, we won't have many problems.

"We were nine out of 10 performances all over the pitch. Everyone was outstanding in our team and that's what you need to win matches in this division."

Portsmouth are so proud of their supporters that the chairman, Milan Mandaric, has decreed no player at the club will wear a number 12 shirt while he is in charge. Instead it is dedicated to "the fans" because Mandaric says "they are like a 12th man for us".

The visitors seemed to be overwhelmed by the passion which swept across Fratton Park after Pompey went ahead and the Wanderers manager, Sam Allardyce, admitted: "We just collapsed in the last 25 minutes. It was embarrassing the way we went belly-up - diabolical."

But Stone, Portsmouth's other scorer, said: "It's not like Bolton to do that. They are always so hard to break down, but I think the occasion got to them.

"You certainly wouldn't swap our start for the ones the other promoted clubs, Leicester and Wolves, have made.

"We're all determined to enjoy the Premiership. And it's up to people like me and Teddy and Patrik Berger, with a bit of experience, to show an example if we suddenly start to lose two or three in a row.

"I don't mean just by talking about it in the dressing-room. You have to go out there and play and do it. Teddy and Patrik are great examples already."

Stone added: "You can't believe Teddy's age. Is he really 37? It's not all about when people talk about players' fitness. Teddy is all about speed of thought and being able to drop instinctively into that hole between midfield and attack. He does everything with a quick brain.

"Patrik has been outstanding too, and I don't see why he can't keep this form going.

"This side reminds one of the one I played in at Nottingham Forest when Stan Collymore and Brian Roy scored a lot of goals. We finished third one year and if we can get close to that here I'll be delighted."

With Hayden Foxe, Matthew Taylor and Tim Sherwood still out injured and last season's top scorer Svetoslav Todorov sidelined for the season with knee ligament damage, Redknapp was relieved there were no further casualties against Bolton.

Despite the recruitment of Smertin, he is still convinced he needs to add to his squad before Sunday's transfer deadline.

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