WES FOGDEN insists only longer spells of first-team action will get him back to full match fitness.
The Pompey midfielder played his longest first-team spell since his return from injury after appearing as a first-half substitute in last weekend’s 2-0 loss to Shrewsbury.
I just need to play the minutes because there is no such thing to replicate itWes Fogden
And the former Bournemouth man is pushing for his first start since the final day of last season in today’s trip to Carlisle.
After five substitute appearances, Fogden has had no reaction to the knee ligament injury he sustained in pre-season and is happy with the progress.
But now it’s all about the mileage and under the unique conditions of first-team football.
Fogden said: ‘I haven’t got any problems with the knee – it feels fine.
‘Match fitness-wise, it’s always the same if you have been out for a long time.
‘You need starts to build up that match fitness and that can take maybe five or six games until you feel you are up to speed.
‘Hopefully, I can keep getting more and more minutes to get my match sharpness up to where I want to be.
‘As most people know, I like to run as much as a I can and I’m looking to build on it over the final few games of the season.
‘But it’s good to know that I haven’t had any problems with the knee.
‘It was more about getting the muscles used to the mileage that you do in matches.
‘And now I just need to play the minutes because there is no such thing to replicate it.’
While Fogden replaced the injured Danny East at right wing-back against Shrewsbury, he was switched into a midfield role when boss Andy Awford changed the formation at half-time.
And while the 26-year-old admits it took him some time to get into the game, he feels there could be some worth in playing a similar role before the end of the campaign.
‘It’s strange because if you start a game, you don’t feel it as much,’ said Fogden.
‘You have that adrenalin going through your body.
‘I played 90 minutes in the reserves on Tuesday and didn’t feel bad at all.
‘But when you come on as sub, your muscles aren’t as warm and it takes a little while to get into the game.
‘We went for a diamond in the second half to accommodate the players we have got. Playing at wing-back is not my natural position.
‘The manager decided to change it and I felt we looked a bit more positive and sharper.
‘We got into the faces a bit more and I think it worked quite well.’