The only way is Essex for Guy

The Pompey players are put through their paces by Alan McLoughlin during pre-season training

The Pompey players are put through their paces by Alan McLoughlin during pre-season training

Enda Stevens. Picture: Joe Pepler

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The destination of Colchester beckons as Pompey prepare to embark on their latest pre-season tour.

The Blues face the short trip to Bognor tomorrow (2pm) for their second friendly of the summer.

Then, the following afternoon, they head to Essex for five days, with Guy Whittingham ordering team spirit development amid the usual dosage of hard yards on the training pitch.

The Five Lakes Hotel in Colchester will host the Blues squad until Friday, when they return home to face Charlton at Fratton Park on July 20.

Set in 320 acres of panoramic English countryside and sporting two golf courses, their latest residence is worlds apart from Pompey tours in recent times.

Whittingham, though, believes it is the ideal setting for his new-look squad at a new-look club.

The Blues boss said: ‘It’s a good opportunity to get everyone together and I think it’s a great place to have a training camp.

‘You are all in one environment for five days and, depending on the weather and how hot it is, we will probably look to train a couple of times a day.

‘That doesn’t mean we will be out on the pitch a couple of times a day. There is a fantastic gymnasium there and another room you can use for different things so we will make use of the facilities the whole time we are there.

‘We are only training once a day at the moment but it is a longer session.

‘That’s because you cannot get water on the pitch at St John’s, making it quite firm, quite hard, so you can’t do too much on it.

‘The lads are training up there and then using David Lloyd or Fitness First to top up.

‘In Colchester next week they have great facilities, and when you are down there in that environment, you can plan your training a little bit better because everybody is there, so we will go into a lot more detail in our training.

‘We have been very conscious to make sure where we go this summer will give us the best chance to get the group working together more.

‘I have already been really impressed with how they are working together at the moment.’

Sandwiched in the middle of their Colchester stay is a match at Conference Premier side Braintree.

The Amlin Stadium, formerly Cressing Road, is situated 17 miles away from Pompey’s hotel.

Despite the fixture, though, Whittingham does not believe he will take any triallists to Essex.

Bondz N’Gala has already left, while Shaun Cooper and Arnaud Mendy are waiting to discover if they will face Bognor tomorrow.

As for the goal hero against the Hawks earlier this week, Ryan Bird, he is on holiday in Spain.

Whittingham added: ‘We are hoping to take the 17 first-team players signed on and the development group as well to Colchester.

‘There will probably be no triallists, but if something comes up you can’t say “no” definitely.

‘We have got to make sure we don’t have too many numbers because we have got a game against Braintree. There is no point taking lots of people there and then people don’t get a game.’

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