Pompey midfielder backed to emerge unscathed

Kenny Jackett is confident Ben Close's frustratingly fitful pre-season won't affect his Pompey campaign.

Thursday, 26th July 2018, 5:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th July 2018, 5:42 pm

Ahead of tomorrow's final friendly against FC Utrecht, the midfielder had played just 45 minutes of match action.

A tight hamstring also ruled him out of the Blues' six-day training camp at Fota Island in Cork earlier this month.

Encouragingly, Close returned to full training at the start of this week and is under consideration for tomorrow's encounter with the Dutch side (1pm).

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Regardless, the 21-year-old's summer preparations have been severely hampered by injury.

Yet Pompey's boss believes natural fitness will ensure Close can emerge unscathed.

Jackett said: '˜Ben's been fine and is a good addition to us, I'm really looking forward to having him fit and available for the games.

'˜He's playing catch-up slightly, but is a fit lad and I think he'll be fine. Hopefully he will be involved tomorrow.

'˜Him missing so much pre-season is not ideal. It won't be ideal for him or for me, but he's a fit lad and now available.

'˜Hopefully he can get some minutes for us tomorrow and be as good as he can be for the start of the season.

'˜It would be better if he had done every minute of pre-season and played all the games, but you cannot get everybody perfect. He is fit enough and has a good enough attitude to make it happen.

'˜How it affects him depends on the individual, how they are feeling at the time and, quite often, how strong the team is around you.'

Close has suffered with hamstring issues previously.

However, he overcame them to make 45 appearances for the Blues last term as he established himself in Jackett's side.

Meanwhile, Gareth Evans will feature in tomorrow's Fratton Park friendly following a virus.

He was absent from Tuesday morning's friendly with Brighton '“ but recovered sufficiently to play against Bognor at Nyewood Lane that evening.

Jackett added: '˜Gareth was ill on Monday and felt a lot better by the Tuesday morning '“ then really wanted the opportunity to do some work so played against Bognor.

'˜He is an experienced pro, he knows what he is doing and knows his body.

'˜He's fine now. He played the full game on Tuesday night but, when we were doing our planning on Monday morning, he was pretty rough.'