Lawrence keen for fresh start

Liam Lawrence is out to put his injury setbacks behind him
Liam Lawrence is out to put his injury setbacks behind him
Conor Chaplin, left, and Oli Hawkins, right, are two options to replace the injured Brett Pitman against Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey fans debate who should replace injured Pitman against Plymouth

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Liam Lawrence is relishing shrugging off his injury hell to rediscover his best Pompey form.

And the midfielder will be using his Republic of Ireland duty to help him.

The Blues skipper was dogged by calf and hamstring problems during the final three months of the campaign.

That restricted him to just four starts since February 19.

But Lawrence made his latest comeback in the season finale at Scunthorpe, playing the full 90 minutes in the 1-1 draw.

He also featured for 45 minutes without any reaction in Linvoy Primus’ charity match last week.

The 29-year-old has now joined up with his Republic of Ireland team-mates until June 7.

Geovanni Trapattoni’s side are lined up to play in the Nations Cup against Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Lawrence believes those fixtures will enable him to build up his fitness over the summer.

And he is eyeing an injury-free campaign when he returns to pre-season training with Pompey at the start of July.

Lawrence said: ‘I started really well and was playing well and everything was going fine.

‘But then I picked up an injury, was back, then got another injury and was back and got another one.

‘So from the end of January onwards I was sort of stop-start and it killed me.

‘In my comeback against Scunthorpe I felt sluggish at times. I suppose that was understandable. I’m just coming back to fitness and was tired because I haven’t trained or played for a while.

‘I’m away with Ireland now until June 7 and I’ve got four games with them.

‘It will probably do me good to get a few games under my belt and, hopefully, I’ll play for Ireland and be all right.

‘I’m just glad now, though, this is behind us and I’m already looking forward to next year and what’s going to happen.’

Regardless of his disappointing end to the campaign, Lawrence has still had a major impact on Pompey’s season.

He hit the ground running following his switch from Stoke, with seven goals in his opening 13 matches.

Yet he failed to add to the penalty he scored against Hull on January 3.

Such had been his high level of performances, he became Steve Cotterill’s first choice to skipper the side once Aaron Mokoena lost his place.

And Lawrence is enjoying his time under the Blues boss.

He added: ‘The manager has done a good job – and that’s not me blowing smoke up his backside.

‘I think he’s a good manager, who has done an unbelievable job with the resources he’s had. It has been a great job from him.’