Fitness is a pressing need for Pompey

Craig Westcarr in pre-season action
Craig Westcarr in pre-season action
Matty Kennedy. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey 1 Southend 0: They said what

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Pompey are fit enough to play the pressing game Andy Awford is demanding.

That’s the verdict of the Blues boss, who wants his team to deliver a high-intensity approach this season as they get set for the new campaign.

The countdown to the big kick-off this weekend at Exeter is gathering pace for Awford and his men.

He will demand they go about forcing their opponents into mistakes with pressure high up the pitch.

That is an approach high on perspiration but Awford feels the stamina is in place to execute his game plan.

He said: ‘The fitness levels are right up there.

‘When they came back we had them tested and they were pretty fit.

‘We saw then at the laboratory they were in good condition.

‘They’ve worked hard and we will keep working with them this week and make sure they stay sharp for what lies ahead and is needed.’

Awford has been looking carefully at his options with the focus on being at the right level of fitness for a busy opening to the season.

That led to James Dunne and Craig Westcarr being the two players to be given 90 minutes against Charlton on Saturday.

Awford explained that was a result of a carefully considered process.

He said: ‘I left two lads on for 90 minutes on Saturday. They needed the 90 minutes.

‘There were a couple who needed it and four or five who could have.

‘They all wear heart-rate monitors so we can assess everything and see what they had already got out of the game.

‘So, at any point, I can chat to our fitness coach.

‘I knew they’d done enough, so we got fresh legs on.’