Pompey head back for pre-season

Pompey's latest bid to escape League Two will commence on Tuesday when the players return for pre-season.

Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler

A touch over six weeks since play-off heartbreak at Home Park, Paul Cook’s troops are to come together for the next attempt.

Automatic promotion will once more be the mission as they must improve on last term’s League Two placing of sixth.

So far Danny Rose and Carl Baker have been recruited during the summer, while Matt Clarke has turned his loan stay into a permanent one.

Cook’s full first-team 
squad are expected to be present at their Hilsea training base as preparations for a fourth successive season in the bottom division kick off.

A new physio is also set to be present following the close-season departure of Sean Duggan for Championship side Brighton.

He already must deal with injuries to Danny Hollands and Gareth Evans, who both face a battle to be ready for the season’s start.

Despite a new Pompey deal to be agreed with Hollands, the club still have a duty of care to treat the midfielder, who suffered ankle ligament damage in the play-off second-leg defeat to Plymouth Argyle.

In addition, Paul Jones, Calvin Davies and Alex Bass are coming back from the injuries which kept them out of action at the end of last term.

Cook’s squad will have almost a week of south-coast work before heading to Ireland on Monday, July 4, for the start of pre-season friendlies.

For their seven-day stay, the Blues will be based in County Meath, half-an-hour from Dublin airport.

The opening friendly of the summer is to take place on Wednesday, July 6, at Sligo Rovers (6.15pm).

The event will also serve as a testimonial for long-serving defender Gavin Peers, who was managed by Cook during his time with Rovers.

Pompey will then face Bohemians at Dalymount Park on Saturday, July 9 (3pm).

However, the Bohs entertain Bray Warriors the previous night in an SSE Airtricity League fixture, likely to impact on their selection against Pompey.

The League of Ireland is currently in the middle of its season, having begun in March with a scheduled end of October.

Pompey will then fly back to England on Sunday, July 10, ahead of a friendly with the Hawks on Wednesday, July 13 (7pm).