Meagre playing numbers gives plenty of food for thought on Blues return

Pompey players take part in the opening day of pre-season training
Pompey players take part in the opening day of pre-season training
Matty Kennedy. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey 1 Southend 0: They said what

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They gathered around a table in the canteen at the Wellington Sports ground.

Not to worry, though, there was still plenty of elbow room for lunch to be devoured in comfort.

It was the first day’s full-training of the pre-season for Steve Cotterill’s men.

And, such was the lack of numbers, those who took part managed to fit around just one table for a spot of food and refreshment.

Earlier, those same eight players were put through their paces by Cotterill and his coaching staff.

Not that Jamie Ashdown was present for long, breaking away from the group to go with John Keeley for the usual specialist goalkeeping session.

At least it wouldn’t have taken new boys Jason Pearce and David Norris long to learn everyone’s names.

Mind you, even the coaching presence was a little short following Ian Woan’s switch to Watford.

The meagre numbers would not have come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the Blues’ fortunes this summer.

But it appears reinforcements are on the way.

Before training, Stephen Henderson turned up at Eastleigh for a medical.

The keeper then disappeared off to Fratton Park to put the finishing touches to his arrival.

Cotterill was also talking positively about deals for Luke Varney and Greg Halford.

It seems both could be out training with their new colleagues imminently.

Likewise, Hermann Hreidarsson, Kanu, Liam Lawrence and Tal Ben-Haim are expected to return on Friday.

Throw in that little lot and numbers have almost doubled before the week is out. Timely indeed, with the first friendly against the Hawks on Monday, July 11.

For the time being, though, eight players took to the top training pitch at Wellington.

Below them, the finishing touches were being put to new pitches following £130,000 worth of refurbishment.

Another example of work in progress.

Interestingly, unlike the Redknapp era, there was not a single triallist present.

Considering the lack of numbers, even the likes of Berlin and OJ Koromah would have been warmly greeted.

Another couple more and a five-a-side might have been arranged.

There was one surprise guest, however. Billy Goddard, released at the end of last season, was present.

The youngster missed the second half of the campaign with a cruciate knee ligament injury picked up in the reserves.

However, Pompey have allowed him to continue training with them as he steps up his rehabilitation.

Cotterill, though, has ruled out re-signing the teenage midfielder.

Still, after a gruelling morning of training those that were present headed off to the canteen for lunch.

No need to rush. After all, plenty to go around.

– NEIL ALLEN