Defender hails ‘best-ever’ season

Ritchie de Laet insists he is in the form of his life at Pompey
Ritchie de Laet insists he is in the form of his life at Pompey
Chesterfield's Dion Donuhue Picture: Jason Chadwick

Pompey closing in on Chesterfield ace

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Ritchie de Laet hailed his Pompey stay and insisted: This has been the best season of my career.

The 22-year-old is revelling in life at Fratton Park during his loan spell from Manchester United.

The defender, who joined in January, has been a Blues ever-present in an 18-game run, the longest spell of regular first-team football he has experienced.

What’s more, de Laet believes his game has blossomed as a result of his loan move from Old Trafford.

De Laet’s attacking displays from right-back have established him as a firm favourite among the Fratton faithful.

He has already indicated he would love to return next season should the opportunity arise.

And the Belgium international is adamant his Pompey spell has allowed him to develop in leaps and bounds.

De Laet said: ‘This must be my best-ever season because I am playing that many games.

‘I have been at Sheffield United for six games and Preston for five but I’ve been playing here for 18 games in a row now and I’m enjoying it.

‘I need the experience to get into that first-team squad of Manchester United, that is my plan. Portsmouth is giving that to me.

‘I have a lot of big players around me that help me day in, day out in training sessions and in games and that has really benefited me.

‘Being in the Championship, it’s fast and it’s hard for 90 minutes so it’s about trying to keep calm on the ball and when the pressure is on you.

‘I feel I am more comfortable now. The confidence is there so that’s good for me as well.

‘I just try to do my best every game. If we play well then I play well and get a lot of the ball, which is what I like.

‘I am improving all the time and this season has been the best season for me.’

This summer will see de Laet enter the final 12 months of his Manchester United contract.

He remains unsure whether that will be extended by Sir Alex Ferguson upon his return to Old Trafford.

However, his progress at Fratton Park has been noted by the Red Devils, with United scouts present on several occasions.

De Laet is hoping his Pompey displays will have caught the eye since arriving in January.

Blues supporters have certainly been impressed with his contribution.

And with four games of his loan spell still to go, there is still time to continue to savour his Pompey performances.

De Laet added: ‘It’s funny, I played only five games in Belgium and then went to Stoke and then United.

‘So I haven’t been playing that much in my career.

‘That has changed for me here at Portsmouth and I am grateful for that.

‘I live in Old Portsmouth at the moment.

‘I am enjoying my life there and I am enjoying playing football for this club.’