Cotterill shutting down Blues ahead of run-in

Pompey boss Steve Cotterill will not be taking any training this week
Pompey boss Steve Cotterill will not be taking any training this week
Joe Hancott was 16 years and 161 days when he made his Pompey debut in the Checkatrade Trophy against Fulham Under-21s on Wednesday night Picture: Joe Pepler

From Pompey apprentice to record holder - in seven weeks

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Steve Cotterill is sending Pompey into ‘shutdown’ mode ahead of a final play-off push.

Cotterill has given his players the whole week off to recover from a frenetic period of fixtures.

The Blues went through a gruelling run of eight games in 28 days going into the international break.

Their flying form in that time has allowed unlikely play-off hopes to move into sharper focus.

Now the Pompey boss is taking the unorthodox step of giving his men a long period of rest as they ready themselves for the final eight games of the campaign.

The players have been given work programmes to carry out in their own time.

Cotterill believes the team effort carried out in the win at Leicester on Saturday showed the fitness is in place among his men.

Now he wants them rested before coming out all guns blazing at Reading on their return to action on Saturday, April 2.

Cotterill said: ‘They have got a break now.

‘We are absolutely going to shut them down this week. They need it, they need a rest this week.

‘All of a sudden we kick off again and have eight games in that next month.

‘It’s similar to Christmas. We just need a bit of a shutdown just to get their legs back.

‘The four days we would have been working this week I have given them four day’s break.

‘They have got a work programme they are going to do, certainly at home, and spend a bit of time with their families this week.

‘When you’ve got an international game, this first week is basically a waste of time.

‘You are not geared up for Saturday, you can’t get them revved up.

‘If they are not fit now they are never going to be fit.

‘We spent a long time getting them fit, they are now fit because they wouldn’t be able to do what they did at Leicester if they weren’t.’

Pompey’s squad numbers would have taken a hit this week and was another factor in Cotterill deciding on the rest period.

Hermann Hreidarsson and Liam Lawrence are on international duty, with David Cotterill on stand-by for the Wales squad. Kanu has also returned to Nigeria.

Cotterill said: ‘To be honest, quite a few of them are away.

‘Hermann is away, Kanu is going off doing something in Nigeria, Liam’s going off, David Cotterill’s going off.

‘Before we know where we are, we wouldn’t even be able to get together for a five or six-a-side.

‘They need to get their legs back in there, their appetite back for it, so we are going to shut them down this week and they have got a well-deserved break, for sure.

‘They’ve got work programmes, they’ve still got to do something, but we’ve shut them down this week.

‘They’ve got three things they need to do this week but they’ll be fine.’