JACK WHATMOUGH was thankful for a challenging dress rehearsal for Pompey’s League One opener.
Kenny Jackett’s side were given a stern test of their credentials by Crawley in their final pre-season warm-up.
The Blues picked up a 2-1 win against Harry Kewell’s men in the summer rain at Broadfield Stadium on Saturday.
But that doesn’t tell the story of the physical challenge posed which unsettled Pompey, particularly in the first half.
Powerhouse Dutch striker, Thomas Verheydt, proved a handful in particular.
That ensured Whatmough was given a decent afternoon’s work which he was thankful for.
He said: It was a tough challenge and I think they are going to do quite well this year. They’ve got a good balance.
‘They’ve got the big men up front they can hit and they can play as well.
‘He (Verheydt) is a big lad and uses his body really well.
‘He will be a handful for most centre-halves in League Two this season. You have to stay switched on.
‘We had to do it last season in League Two and it’s going to be another step up in using your brain more.’
Whatmough explained he has enjoyed new boss Jackett’s approach since he succeeded Paul Cook.
The defender feels Pompey are being afforded responsibility to make sure they are in the right condition to be ready for the season.
He said: ‘The gaffer is treating us like men.
‘He’s saying we take care of our fitness and take charge of that. That’s our responsibility.
‘So if you’re picked you have to have done enough to be fit and stay fit.
‘We’re not treated like kids. We’re given adult responsibility, which is nice.’
Whatmough begins his fifth season as a senior Pompey player this weekend.
That’s quite an achievement with the Gosport talent still only 20.
Whatmough has faced major injury problems in his time at Fratton Park but has still managed to get 50 appearances under his belt.
Despite his youth, the academy graduate finds himself in the position of being Pompey’s’ longest-serving senior player.
Whatmough acknowledged that was unusual for someone of his age.
He’s seen a number of different Pompey teams put together in his time at Fratton Park.
And he feels Jackett’s side matches up well to any he’s been a part of.
Whatmough said: ‘It’s funny. Players and have come and gone, but I feel we have a very strong side still this season.
‘We’ve prepared well. Every morning we go in and we know what we’re doing.
‘It’s a set routine and it’s a lot of shape work.
‘A lot of it’s structured around 11 v 11 and building to August 5. It looks like it’s going to be another exciting campaign again.’
- JORDAN CROSS