Plenty of home comforts at new base

Guy Whittingham
Guy Whittingham
Milan Lalkovic in pre-season action against the Hawks

Pompey winger set for return against Walsall

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Pompey return to training today at St John’s College playing fields.

The school will be their home for the next few weeks.

But then the Blues’ nomadic existence, when it comes to their daily place of work, will come to an end. For the time being, at least.

Guy Whittingham hopes to see his side in their new base at University of Portsmouth’s Langstone Campus come the start of the season.

And, when they’re ready, there will be decent facilities to welcome them there.

As part of a £1m revamp, the site will eventually sport a full-sized 3G and top-class 11-a-side pitches along with a host of full-size and smaller-side pitches, astro turf and extensive changing facilities.

It’s a set-up Whittingham can’t wait to utilise as part of their one-year agreement with the university.

He said: ‘The set-up looks decent when they are completed and it’s all done.

‘They are going to have some great facilities down there with everything that is being done.

‘That will be great to be able to use in the future.

‘But immediately we’ll have a couple of offices down and an area we can use now. That’s important.

‘It’s got what we need and what the groundsman needs to maintain it well as well.

‘Everyone has worked really hard to be able to do that.

‘Basically the pitches need some tender loving care and our groundsman needs to do what he does at Fratton Park.

‘We need to get it so it’s suitable to train on every day and good enough to play fixtures on.

‘You do need a decent pitch to be able to play decent football on. That’s the most important thing now.’

Whittingham admitted the ideal scenario would have been to return for pre-season training today at the Langstone Campus.

Logistical problems meant that could not be the case, paving the way for St John’s College to save the day.

It’s another example of the local community stepping in to help as the club gets itself back on its feet.

Whittingham said: ‘We would like to have gone in starting today.

‘But it’s not as easy as just pitching up there and playing football.

‘Being a university site there’s a lot of health and safety issues.

‘Then there are other legal things to take into account.

‘We would have liked to get contractors in now and do what we did at the old training ground, when they took the top surface off and relaid it.

‘Unfortunately there were too many hoops to jump through on that.

‘But we are pleased we can get down there.

‘Ultimately that will help the university as well because, when we eventually move on, they will have something that is better than it is now.

‘The agreement is for a year but we hope we like it down there and they like us.

‘Hopefully we can form a relationship we are all comfortable with.

‘But we are grateful to St John’s College for helping us out in the immediate future.

‘Again we’ll work closely with them to make sure we don’t disturb anything the school is doing.

‘It’s great considering the university isn’t quite ready yet that we have somewhere to keep the same thing going where we change at Fratton and it’s only a five-minute drive up the road.’