Pompey off to Spain to face La Liga new boys

Estadio Benito Villamarin, home of Real Betis
Estadio Benito Villamarin, home of Real Betis
Carl Baker. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Blues manager Steve Cotterill believes Pompey will benefit from their surprise Spanish training camp.

Pompey will meet newly-promoted La Liga side Real Betis next Wednesday as part of a five-day stay on the continent.

The trip has been arranged after Pompey were forced to cancel the pre-season clash with Betis at Fratton Park, after they were left stranded in America by a cancelled flight on their pre-season tour.

With the international break coming up, the friendly will now take place at Estadio Benito Villamarin at 9pm local time (8pm BST).

Cotterill will be without the likes of Hermann Hreidarsson, Tal Ben Haim and Liam Lawrence for the game as they represent their respective nations.

But he feels the game will be the ideal chance to get minutes in to those who have not featured in recent clashes.

Cotterill said: ‘We fly out to Spain on Monday and get back on Friday so we get training days out there.

‘There will be game-time for us, certainly game-time for those who haven’t had too much. Real Betis are a great club and there will be a good partisan crowd. They are similar to our fans.

‘It will be a good game, a good, tough game.

‘We will be without our international players, so we won’t be at our strongest.

‘That doesn’t matter really because the result is almost irrelevant.

‘But we can get 90 minutes hard work out of the game.’

Pompey will be given a tough test by Betis, who took on Hawks after Pompey could not fulfil their fixture.

The Seville-based club dished out a 7-0 drubbing to the Blue Square South outfit at Westleigh Park, as they delivered a mesmerising display of passing football.

Betis also went down to a narrow 1-0 defeat at Swansea in the summer, but have not opened their league campaign following the Spanish players’ strike.

Cotterill is looking forward to sampling the club’s facilities – while giving Pompey’s training ground pitches a break from action.

He said: ‘It’s a trip where we can do a fair bit of training in a nice climate.

‘We’ll also give a bit of rest to our training pitches. They are not quite there yet because we were late getting them done.’