Pompey hopeful of solving midfielder’s injury woes

Ben Close in action against Everton. Picture: Colin Farmery
Ben Close in action against Everton. Picture: Colin Farmery
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Pompey are hoping to finally resolve the nagging hamstring problem hampering Ben Close’s progress.

The midfielder has been troubled by a succession of niggling injuries during the past year.

A dejected Ben Close with Ian Foster earlier this season. Picture: Joe Pepler

A dejected Ben Close with Ian Foster earlier this season. Picture: Joe Pepler

These have primarily involved his hamstrings, a complaint often restricting his availability.

Paul Cook remains an admirer of Close’s ability on the ball, yet has been without him for periods.

The problem has so far hindered a promising Blues career for the youngster from Fratton.

However, Ian Foster has revealed a six-week programme has been implemented to cure the problem.

Bournemouth have been very kind to us and loaned us a piece of equipment which has highlighted Ben’s issue

Ian Foster

Close had to leave the pitch in Monday night’s 3-1 defeat at Everton under-23s having again felt his hamstring. Foster insists that move was precautionary – and the 20-year-old is now on the right track.

Pompey’s first-team coach said: ‘At the moment, Ben is on a programme with the medical team to strengthen his hamstrings.

‘On Monday night he felt them tightening up as the game was getting later and later.

‘Rather than risk straining them again, he has come off as a precaution, which was the right thing to do.

‘We are monitoring him closely.

‘We believe our medical staff have got to the root of the problem and we believe it’s a strength issue.

‘He has been given a six-week programme in which to try to really put some strength into the muscles and those surroundings muscles.

‘Bournemouth have been very kind to us and loaned us a piece of equipment which has highlighted Ben’s issue.

‘We see this as a positive and can now build on that.

‘It was unfortunate Ben couldn’t see out the game but it does not represent a setback for him, which is pleasing.

‘He knows his own body and came off as a precaution.’

Close has made only four appearances so far this season, none of which have come in the league.

In contrast, he had 14 outings in Cook’s maiden campaign as Pompey boss, including a run of six successive starts.

This summer, the Blues strengthened the holding midfield area by recruiting Danny Rose and Amine Linganzi, while Danny Hollands was released.

Close’s hopes of staking an early claim were hit by an injury which saw him miss pre-season matches at Bohemians and the Hawks.

He was also absent for fixtures at the beginning of the season.

And the necessity to substitute him against Everton on Monday night forced the Blues to finish with 10 men.

Foster added: ‘Unfortunately we had made three changes at that time, so had to end the game with 10.

‘That’s football, you have to get on with it.

‘It was entirely precautionary and Ben is fine.’