Embattled Portsmouth will fight for Premier League survival until the end, claims captain Aaron Mokoena

Portsmouth captain Aaron Mokoena has vowed the players will never give up in their seemingly hopeless battle to stay in the Barclays Premier League.

Bottom club Pompey went into administration on Friday with estimated debts of £78million, including an outstanding tax bill of £12.1m, and look set to be deduced nine points which would effectively seal their fate.

Nevertheless, South Africa midfielder Mokoena, in line to return to the squad for Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final against Birmingham following seven matches out with a knee problem, maintains the team will battle until the end.

Gabriel Agbonlahor of Aston Villa battles with Nadir Belhadj and Aaron Mokoena of Portsmouth

Fight goes on: Aaron Mokoena (R) says Pompey players will not throw in the towel

'The good thing at the moment is at least we know where we stand with administration. That's a big relief,' Mokoena told the Portsmouth News.

'We just have to try to get ourselves back in the Premier League again next year, but it is not over, we still have a lot of games to play.

'For me personally, I hope everybody connected with the club, especially the players, fights until the last moment, the last game.

'We need to show our professionalism, we need to make sure our fans enjoy each and every game we play from now until the end of the season. That's how it is.'

Despite the off-field chaos, which also saw players and staff not paid on time several times, Avram Grant's men have managed to find some form in recent matches, taking four points from a possible nine following the morale-boosting victory over fellow relegation strugglers Burnley.

Mokoena insists the players have to remain focused on the job in hand, which could yet yield a return to Wembley for the 2008 FA Cup winners.

'It is a big challenge and it is up to us to go onto the field and give our best, that is all we can affect,' he said.

'We have brilliant players, the character is unbelievable. There was a point where we never got paid but we kept coming into training and giving it all and that shows what amazing players we have.

Portsmouth's Frederic Piquionne celebrates scoring the opening goal of the game with Jamie O'Hara (right) during the Barclays Premier League match at Turf Moor

Team spirit: Mokoena says the character of the club's players has been fantastic

'We know how important this cup is now and how important this league is still. I have not lost hope. The situation we are in is difficult, but we just have to fight it until the end. We are not going to give up now.'

Administrator Andrew Andronikou maintains Tuesday's High Court appearance, at which a judge ordered another hearing in a fortnight's time to ascertain whether his appointment by Balram Chainrai was valid, will have no bearing on the plans to find a new buyer, while he also looks to slash costs over the next few weeks.


There has been some interest from New Zealand businessman Victor Cattermole, while the Intermarket Group who were close to a takeover at West Ham have also emerged as possible investors.

The Pompey squad, though, can only prepare themselves for a huge cup tie this weekend, with the added incentive of some £1.2m for making the semi-finals.

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