Pompey boss praises Close's rapid rise
Kenny Jackett has saluted Ben Close's rapid development in increasingly-familiar first-team surrounds.
And he has called on Pompey’s other starlets to follow the midfielder’s excellent example.
Jackett has put his faith in the 21-year-old by handing a sustained run in the side which has seen him flourish.
Close has started 13 successive League One fixtures for the Blues as he continues to blossom with regular football.
The Fratton youngster is battling against a slight thigh problem to retain his hard-fought spot against Charlton on Saturday.
Nonetheless, Close has won praise from the Pompey boss who has granted that prized run in the team.
Jackett said: ‘It just shows you how players can react very positively to a run in the team, particularly young players.
‘I hope we can have a couple more come through like Ben with that type of backing and that type of run.
‘He has gone from being somebody at start of the season aspiring to challenge after not given many chances and many opportunities.
‘He was a 20 or 21-year-old needing a breakthrough.
‘That has now come and come very well, with a good improvement adding more to his game.
‘It has happened pretty quickly. It’s good when you see a player develop quickly like Ben has – and he has the opportunity to go further.
‘Generally, players need to maybe go in and out before they hit their best form.
‘But he has not looked like he’s needed a rest or a break from it.
‘It looks like his confidence is growing not falling away.
‘Ben has a good career ahead of him. He has a level head and a good attitude and has to maintain that and keep progressing.’
Having been granted his Pompey debut at Yeovil in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in September 2014, Close has now made 46 appearances.
His maiden goal also arrived this season – at Blackpool – as the home-grown product continues to go from strength to strength.
Jackett added: ‘Ben is an all-round midfield player who is very safe in his passing.
‘When I say safe, I am not being detrimental to him, I mean reliable. He’s a very reliable person to have the ball, to have the ball regularly, to have the ball in tight areas and is able to keep it for you.
‘He has improved in that he has some perception in his play, side-stepping people, playing some balls that actually may promote a chance or a goal – and then finally, at the right time, getting some efforts on goal himself.
‘His involvement in the game is good, he has some good energy and good reading and that gets him involved for the whole 90 minutes.
‘What he has added to his game is coming from deep.
‘He is good enough to get the ball off the back four and then either carry it or produce a pass.
‘And he now looks a threat in and around their box.’