Mullins happy he got return flight to America

Hayden Mullins, third right, along with some of the other Pompey players, trains in South Carolina  Picture: Joe Pepler/Portsmouth FC
Hayden Mullins, third right, along with some of the other Pompey players, trains in South Carolina Picture: Joe Pepler/Portsmouth FC
Matt Clarke Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey pair scrap it out for centre-half spot

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Many never wanted to endure another pre-season in America again.

But for Hayden Mullins, booking a return ticket has proven inspired.

Pompey’s time in Charleston, South Carolina, is drawing to a close.

Tonight Cotterill’s men face Charleston Battery in their final friendly of their US trip.

They will then arrive back in England on Friday morning – ahead of taking on Real Betis at Fratton Park on Saturday (6.30pm).

Mullins is one of four survivors from the ill-fated 2010 excursion to north America and Canada.

Others still around from that much-maligned trip are Jamie Ashdown, Joel Ward and Hermann Hreidarsson.

The horrors experienced travelling across the Atlantic 12 months ago have been well documented.

But the ghosts haven’t returned to haunt Mullins and his playing colleagues this time around.

The 32-year-old has been impressed by the tour schedule during their time in South Carolina.

That has involved the team being based at the same venue for the entire 12 days of their stay, using the College of Charleston’s state-of-the-art gymnasium and training at Battery’s Blackbaud Stadium.

And The News/Sports Mail player of the year believes Cotterill’s determination for another Stateside trip has been fully vindicated.

He said: ‘I think the pre-season trip away is always needed, especially with the new boys coming in.

‘You get to know everyone a bit better and it’s a different environment for 12 days to work on your fitness.

‘The facilities and the weather are the best things about coming to America.

‘It’s a lot harder to breathe out here with the humidity. The air is thinner and it’s a lot hotter.

‘That means your body works twice as hard to get the air in. It feels like you are doing twice the work.

‘So when you get back home the air is a lot more easier to breathe and a lot cooler.

‘That is the fitness that we need and when we go back that will only help us.

‘I’ve been to China, Sweden, Austria, America, all over the place really for pre-season during my career.

‘I think it’s about getting the right mix, the right weather, the right facilities and a place where the players can relax and have downtime.

‘If you get stuck in one place for too long with nothing to do the boys switch off and get bored. They get ratty and arguments start.

‘When I was at West Ham we went to Austria one time and were in the hills for two weeks

‘After a while the arguments started.

‘There was nothing to do. You would go training, then sit in your room, then go training again, then sit in your room. That was it.

‘It was hard for the boys but if you get the right mix I think it all blends in well and you get what you want out of the trip’

‘I believe that is what we have had here. It has been going really, really well. It is just what we needed and proved a good decision.’

The likes of Ricardo Rocha, Aaron Mokoena, Kanu and Tal Ben Haim were not on last season’s pre-season tour.

Others such as Marlon Pack, Matt Ritchie, Tom Kilbey, David Nugent, Tommy Smith, Michael Brown and Richard Hughes have since left.

It is a very different squad of 17 currently out in America. And Mullins is still eager for the club to bring in a few more new recruits.

He added: ‘This time last season we had nowhere near this amount of senior players.

‘I think if we can add another three or four more bodies to the squad before the start we will be more than ready to have a good campaign.

‘It’s a lot better now we’ve got 15-17 players in the squad who can come into the first team and do really well.

‘Last year we had just six – so it’s a massive difference.’