Cotterill’s injury fears after star man’s setback

Liam Lawrence has suffered pain in his calf muscle during pre-season
Liam Lawrence has suffered pain in his calf muscle during pre-season
Milan Lalkovic in pre-season action against the Hawks

Pompey winger set for return against Walsall

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Pompey fear Liam Lawrence could again face a spell on the sidelines following a fresh injury setback.

The Republic of Ireland midfielder missed Monday’s friendly against the Hawks.

It was an absence prompted by pain in his calf muscle after completing a training session at the weekend.

The complaint is the same one which dogged Lawrence during the second half of last season.

The fans’ favourite recovered to feature in Pompey’s last two games of the campaign and represent his country during the summer.

Now there are concerns the injury has flared up again.

Lawrence, who yesterday saw a specialist, was pulled out of the West Leigh Park encounter as a precaution.

And Steve Cotterill is wary his star midfielder has another fitness battle in front of him.

The Pompey manager said: ‘We had a couple of tough days last week and Liam’s calf has tightened up again.

‘It is the same one he has done before but he has been clear since the end of last season and gone on international duty.

‘Now his calf has flared up again and we are a little bit disappointed by that because there isn’t anything more we can do.

‘Liam is frustrated by it as well.

‘It’s something which happened in training on Sunday, although he finished the session.

‘It was just tight. He has not pulled it, he has not torn it, there isn’t any major damage or anything like that.

‘We could have started him the other night but what would we have gained from that? It has got to be right.

‘It would have just been pointless him playing against Havant & Waterlooville and pulling it.

‘We are hoping that settles down, though.’

Lawrence missed seven of Pompey’s final 15 games last season through a troublesome calf problem.

Up until that point, he had been one of Cotterill’s outstanding performers since arriving from Stoke alongside Dave Kitson last August.

The former Sunderland midfielder’s form also slumped when he returned to the first team.

But Lawrence came through the injury to start the last match of the campaign at Scunthorpe.

And he featured for the Republic of Ireland this summer.

After being given an extra week off, the 29-year-old joined in with Pompey pre-season training on Friday.

Now Pompey are sweating on his fitness once again.

Cotterill added: ‘There is nothing more we can do.

‘Liam has played a lot football, he’s not had a break in the summer.

‘He rolled into internationals so has probably had only four weeks off, which is probably not enough time.

‘We just need to make sure he is okay, otherwise we can’t play him because it would set him back weeks.’