Close’s mindset unaltered after Pompey boss change

Ben Close, centre, with some of his Blues team-mates at the reception on Southsea Common to mark Pompeys League Two title success
Ben Close, centre, with some of his Blues team-mates at the reception on Southsea Common to mark Pompeys League Two title success
Pompey's Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

Evans: Player talk has lifted Pompey form

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Ben Close sealed the deal to clinch his Fratton Park future.

A mere five days later, the manager who was instrumental in securing his signature had quit Pompey.

My mindset hasn’t changed, I’m still going to work hard this off-season, hopefully head into pre-season fit and leave a good impression on the new manager

Ben Close

For the 20-year-old, however, it remains business as usual as he refuses to adjust a focus fixed on regular first-team football.

Paul Cook departed not long after ushering the promising midfielder to the negotiation table for a fresh contract.

His managerial replacement is Kenny Jackett, whose opening address consisted of pledging to give younger players opportunities.

Encouraging words for Close, who last term was restricted to four cup appearances before being loaned out to Eastleigh in the search for consistent action.

Irrespective of the identity of the man at the Pompey helm, the Fratton lad’s mission goal has not deviated.

And Close is desperate to make his mark in the Blues first team.

He said: ‘It’s a great feeling to sign another contract. I’ve now had a few years in and around the first team and hopefully next season can be even better for me and I can play a lot more games.

‘Last term I was a little bit unlucky with injuries, although finished the season well with Eastleigh and the reserves to give me a bit more confidence and game time.

‘This is the club I want to play for and where I see myself with a big future.

‘I didn’t look elsewhere, I’m going to stay as long as I think I can get into the team. The day I can’t get into the side is probably the time to move on – but I still see my future at Pompey.

‘It was strange the manager leaving so soon after I had signed a new contract, but personally it doesn’t really change things.

‘My mindset hasn’t changed, I’m still going to work hard this off-season, hopefully head into pre-season fit and leave a good impression on the new manager.

‘If it was Paul Cook in charge I’d have exactly the same mentality. There’s a new manager now and I will try to do the same thing and impress him.

‘Sometimes young players are a bit too keen to move on and look elsewhere, but if I can get a good pre-season and make a good impression on the new manager then it is going to set me up.

‘I am looking forward to meeting with Kenny Jackett and working with him this season.’

Close is approaching a decade’s service at his home-town club having climbed through the academy system.

He has so far made 27 appearances for the Blues, while a loan spell at Eastleigh during the second half of last season yielded nine outings.

And the midfielder feels his time at the National League club was hugely beneficial.

He added: ‘I think it helped Eastleigh a little bit and they helped me out massively.

‘I was playing every week when fit and really enjoyed it. I like to think I left a good impression on them.

‘We played a 3-5-2 system, with Sam Togwell sitting in the centre, with me on the right and Sam Matthews to the left.

‘It was a good experience. The Conference is a decent standard of football and I feel a better player for experiencing it.’