Benjani target set

Returning Pompey hero Benjani

Returning Pompey hero Benjani

Alex Kiwomya

League One weekly transfer round-up

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Benjani Mwaruwari has told Pompey fans: Give me three weeks and I’ll be at full tilt.

The Zimbabwe striker made an emotional return to the Pompey ranks on Saturday after sealing a lightning-quick move back to Fratton Park on a free transfer.

And after continued calls from the Fratton faithful for his introduction against Reading on Tuesday night, boss Steve Cotterill added the forward to the action as a 76th-minute substitute to a tumultuous reception.

The Blues manager knows his new forward is not quite at peak physical condition after missing much of pre-season.

And the ex- Manchester City and Blackburn man is in full agreement but has set himself a personal challenge to be at full speed in less than a month.

Benjani, who is expected to be on the bench again for the trip to Bristol City tomorrow, said: ‘I will train hard, get a couple of games and I will be a lot fitter in the next few weeks.

‘I think it will only take me two or three weeks to be as fit as possible.

‘I’m working very hard and will get fitter and fitter the more I train and the more I play. I’m ready to work hard.

‘I was happy to play for 20 minutes and be back at this club again but I want to be able to play 90 minutes very quickly.’

While the landscape has significantly changed at Fratton Park since his departure to City in January 2008, Benjani was not deterred from committing himself to join Cotterill’s rebuilding process that has gathered pace since the summer takeover by Convers Sports Initiatives.

It is a pointer in itself that Benjani left the club in the same month Jermain Defoe arrived at Pompey – just a few months before Harry Redknapp’s side won the FA Cup. And while that seems like a lifetime ago to many, it’s just three-and-a-half years since the striker was the key man in the Blues attack.

Benjani said: ‘I know all about what has happened at Portsmouth since I have been away.

‘It was very sad to see what happened because I have so many friends here.

‘But it’s a different club again now and I’m glad about that.

‘I know this place, I know the fans, the staff and it’s so great to see so many familiar faces again.

‘My kids love it here.

‘They even wanted to come down here to visit when I was in Manchester, so we are all loving the chance to live down here again.

‘As I already know, the fans are great here.

‘I still have my house down here so everything has happened in the right place for me and I want to pay people back for bringing me to the club again.’

He may have to bide his time to get his full debut but Benjani is determined he will not wait quite so long to score his first goal after his infamous run of 13 games without a goal at the start of his first spell.

He smiled: ‘I hope it won’t take as long to score my first goal this time.

‘That’s the only thing that is worrying me!

‘I need to get it quickly this time. One early goal and I will be fine.’

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