Pompey Ladies are tough enough to continue title charge

Ini Umotong scored for Pompey Ladies against Plymouth. Picture: Jordan Hampton
Ini Umotong scored for Pompey Ladies against Plymouth. Picture: Jordan Hampton
Pompey midfielder Ben Close Picture: Joe Pepler

Close is free from injury and full of Pompey ambition

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Jason Campbell believes Pompey Ladies are now fully equipped to mix it with the toughest opposition.

The Blues have long been recognised for their impressive passing game, with rival teams unable to live with them.

But in grim conditions, in the depths of winter on difficult playing surfaces against bigger, stronger sides, they were often susceptible to being bullied out of games.

However, Blues strength and conditioning coach Campbell is confident those days are now firmly in the past.

Each week he puts the players through a rigorous fitness training regime.

His sessions are designed to ensure the players are in peak condition to get the most out of their ability on the field.

The squad have embraced the training methods and are reaping the rewards on the field.

They have lost only one of their FA Women’s Premier League southern division matches so far this season.

In a number of games, Pompey have not been at their fluent best.

But they have been strong enough physically to outlast and overpower their opponents to secure victories.

Campbell said: ‘Physically, our team is probably now the strongest in the league.

‘We have a physical edge over teams. We can push on in the last 20 minutes when the opposition would maybe fade off.

‘It helps them mentally, not just physically.

‘If they are up against it in a game, they know they have got what it takes in that final 20 minutes.

‘We have had games where we have had to grind out the first 70 minutes and then they will accelerate.’

The fitness sessions on Tuesday nights also involve the development squad and members of the youth team.

Campbell believes it is important to have the group together to ensure players are ready when they are called up for first-team duty.

He added: ‘They all give a good account of themselves, including our development squad.

‘They are training with the first team and they have to perform just as well as the first team physically.

‘We set high standards. We expect all the players to be fully prepared for the game and also to see how important it is to stretch afterwards.

‘It’s about educating the players on how to look after their bodies and providing them with the tools to do that.’

The Blues host Mossley Hill in the FA Women’s Premier League Cup on Sunday (12.30pm).

They haven’t played since beating Plymouth 3-0 on October 26, with goals from Charley Wilson, Gemma Hillier and Ini Umotong.

Pompey will play a friendly against Chelsea’s development side at Park Community School in Havant on Thursday (7.45pm).