Pompey boss: Fans are seeing the real Gary Roberts

Gary Roberts Picture: Joe Pepler
Gary Roberts Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey midfielder Ben Close Picture: Joe Pepler

Close is free from injury and full of Pompey ambition

  • Gary Roberts scored 10 goals in 38 games for Pompey last season
  • The midfielder has netted in four of the Blues’ six friendlies during pre-season so far
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Paul Cook believes Pompey’s summer schedule has provided glimpses of the real Gary Roberts.

Injuries hampered the 32-year-old’s maiden Fratton Park campaign, prompting him to brand his overall season as ‘average’.

All of a sudden, in a small space of time, people are seeing glimpses of what Gary Roberts is

Gary Roberts

Yet the creative midfielder has so far netted in four of the Blues’ six pre-season matches.

Most recent was the opener in the 3-3 draw with Premier League Bournemouth on Saturday.

Those goalscoring contributions have capped some impressive personal displays in Pompey’s friendly programme.

Roberts will again be in the frame to feature in tonight’s trip to Bognor (7.15pm).

And Cook is convinced the Fratton faithful are witnessing what the former Chesterfield man can truly offer his side.

The manager said: ‘Gary just needs a run of games and, with all due to respect to him, when he gets on the wrong side of a player like he did against Bournemouth you expect him to score.

‘He has fantastic quality, I have seen Gary have a fantastic career.

‘He came here as a massive signing but unfortunately the stop-start nature of what he did last year meant Pompey fans haven’t seen the best of him.

‘However, all of a sudden, in a small space of time, people are seeing glimpses of what Gary Roberts is.

‘Just maintaining fitness is the key for Gary.

‘He will have bad games, like everyone does, but if he maintains his fitness he has moments which change games.

‘Take a look at that second-half cross for Noel Hunt on Saturday, he has the ability to make something happen.

‘He was average last year. I remember bringing him off at half-time against Barnet at Fratton Park, he was playing injured.

‘Pompey fans don’t know he was getting injections and strappings to play. That is not right and eventually we had to bring him off because he wasn’t playing well enough to stay on and wasn’t fit enough to play well.

‘Gary’s whole attitude was wanting to win and play – but unfortunately he couldn’t see that through.

‘Now he is free from injuries and doing great.’

It was during last summer’s trip to Nyewood Lane when Roberts collected his first injury for Pompey.

The Scouser hurt his left knee in the 1-1 draw, keeping him out of two further friendlies.

He enters tonight’s fixture in encouraging form – as does fellow attacking-midfielder Carl Baker.

Cook added: ‘Gary and Carl are good players and the more of them at the club the job is meant to get easier.

‘Carl is a seasoned player, you don’t play 34 games in the Championship last year if you are not any good.

‘Not only is it his quality which stands out but level of professionalism to boot.’