BEN CLOSE has been challenged to earn a place in Pompey’s first-team set-up.
The promising young midfielder has returned to Fratton Park from a loan spell at Poole Town – and been tasked with making the senior breakthrough.
The challenge for him now is to get into the squad.Andy Awford
Close impressed in a run of eight matches at Southern League premier division Poole.
The Fratton lad made eight appearances and grabbed a goal, with his side losing just a single game in that period.
Andy Awford has now chosen to bring the 18-year-old back into the fold with the Blues.
The manager is keen to see the talented passer vie for first-team minutes at Pompey between now and the end of the season.
Awford said: ‘We’ll bring Ben back now. He’s had a good month at Poole but he’ll come back into the fray.
‘He played a lot and he needed that first-team activity. He’s a good player but with him not playing here he needed to play.
‘The move served its purpose. He’ll come back into the group now.
‘I don’t want him to go on loan now. I want him to stay here and be part of the group. The challenge for him now is to get into the squad.’
Awford admitted he would have ideally liked to see Close play higher up the football ladder than its seventh rung at Poole.
But he is happy, after six Pompey appearances, the move has helped the youngster’s development.
Awford added: ‘I was hoping he’d go a little higher but it was important for him to get game time – and we are grateful to Poole for giving him that.’
– JORDAN CROSS