PORTLAND United interim boss Gary Bailey is respectful of the threat posed by AFC Portchester ahead of facing the Royals at the Weyline Stadium in the Sydenhams Wessex Premier Division tomorrow (3pm).

After negotiating a hectic cup schedule, Portchester have steadily climbed up the rankings and Bailey feels the Hampshire side should be considered the “real deal”.

He told Echosport: “It should be a good game. They’re a good side, they’ve been behind in games with cups and had games called off. I always knew they were going to be there or thereabouts.

“They’ve got a very good management team down there, they’re the real deal. We’ve got to be on our game to compete with them.”

Bailey is also relishing the contest and is aiming to restore a greater deal of consistency during the remainder of the season.

He said: “They’re probably the highest-ranked team that we’ve played so far – it’s one that we’re looking forward to.

“We want to test ourselves against the best sides and it will give us a real idea of where we are. Before I came, (Portland’s) record against the top sides was excellent, but you need to make sure you pick up points on teams around you. It’s that level of consistency we’re trying to get back, and perform against whoever you play.”

Sam Buckler is a major doubt with a dead leg sustained against Shaftesbury.