Pompey delivered injury boost

Ben Close has handed Pompey a fitness boost ahead of the visit of Bury.

Wednesday, 13th December 2017, 5:58 am
Pompey midfielder Ben Close

The midfielder yesterday returned to training following a thigh problem which kept him out of the past two matches.

His enforced absence handed Stuart O’Keefe a recall to start alongside Danny Rose in the holding-midfield roles.

Now Close is back in the first-team frame as Kenny Jackett’s injury list begins to clear ahead of the busy Christmas schedule.

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Kal Naismith, Oli Hawkins and Dion Donohue are the other casualties edging towards a return to action following a spell on the sidelines.

Close, however, had established himself as an automatic choice before his injury, starting 13 successive League One fixtures.

In the process, the 21-year-old earned rich praise from the manager, while impressing supporters with his growing quality.

With Close recently missing, the Blues have subsequently defeated Northampton in the Checkatrade Trophy – a game which saw O’Keefe score.

They also claimed a 1-0 win at Charlton last weekend.

And those outcomes may keep Close out of the side when rock-bottom Bury visit on Saturday, regardless of his return to fitness.

Certainly, O’Keefe has impressed since coming in for the Fratton youngster, creating excellent competition in the midfield area.

Meanwhile, long-term injury casualties Milan Lalkovic and Jack Whatmough remain sidelined until the new year.

Lalkovic has received treatment on the Achilles problem which has blighted his season, while Whatmough continues to make promising progress from knee ligament damage.