Sullivan: Bring on the battle for No1 spot

John Sullivan is determined to be Pompey's No1 this season

John Sullivan is determined to be Pompey's No1 this season

Liam O'Brien. Picture: Joe Pepler

O’Brien targeting regular football after Pompey exit

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John Sullivan eyed his battle for the Pompey No1 shirt and vowed: I’m here to play.

Sullivan is going head to head with Phil Smith to get the nod as the Blues’ first choice for the League Two opener against Oxford on August 3.

The pair will vie for that spot as Guy Whittingham’s side continue their pre-season preparations at Bognor tomorrow (2pm).

Smith and Sullivan played 45 minutes apiece at Westleigh Park in the pre-season curtain-raiser against the Hawks on Tuesday night.

Triallist Bondz N’Gala also featured in that 5-0 win but has now left Pompey, while it remains unclear what lies in wait for Shaun Cooper and Arnaud Mendy who have been training with the Blues.

Pompey goalkeeping coach Alan Knight has laid it on the line for his keepers, however, making it clear there will be no automatic first choice this season.

Sullivan is ready for that challenge, with the 25-year-old set to battle it out with Smith, who joined Pompey in December.

‘I really think it can be a big season,’ said Sullivan.

‘I’m working with Alan Knight, who is a real top guy.

‘Phil is a great guy who I have come across before.

‘There is a good healthy, working group and relationship there.

‘Me and Phil want to push each other because we want to be playing. I haven’t come here to be on the bench. I have come here to play.

‘I’m not saying that is definitely going to be the case, but that is the attitude I have.

‘If I didn’t, what would have been the point in signing? I’m coming here to play.

‘I’m sure Phil will say the same. You don’t want to sit on the bench. In the keeper position there can only be one playing, though, so it’s going to be a good battle.

‘He won’t accept being number two. I’d be a fool to think that. He isn’t here to sit here and be number two.

‘For me that is not good, either. I don’t want to get sloppy and think I’m playing and don’t have to train hard.

‘Keepers are a different breed and a bit crazy, but we need to push each other.

‘There will be suspensions, injuries and form, but you want those factors to add up to playing as much football as possible.’

Sullivan inked a two-year deal at Pompey in May after Simon Eastwood made a surprise exit for Blackburn.

After playing for six loan and permanent clubs in his career, the former Charlton man has made it clear the prospect of settling with the Blues appeals to him.

Sullivan said: ‘I’m 25 now and I need to be playing.

‘I’ve done a bit of travelling and going to clubs for two or three years. I just want to be settled now at a club – and I hope that club is Portsmouth.

‘You can’t say that will definitely happen because nothing is definite in football.

‘But for me, I’d love to establish myself here for many years to come.’

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