Ashdown’s body language to benefit Pompey

Pompey keeper Jamie Ashdown
Pompey keeper Jamie Ashdown
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Jamie Ashdown believes he is in the condition of his life.

What’s more, he’s convinced his Pompey performances will be better for it.

The 30-year-old is adamant he’s fitter than at any other time of his career.

It’s a remarkable claim for a player whose sculptured frame and strapping physique comfortably sets him apart from the rest of Steve Cotterill’s squad.

Yet such has been the effectiveness of his pre-season, Ashdown oozes confidence in his body.

Last term the keeper battled back from being released from Fratton Park and a summer knee operation to emerge as one of the stars of the campaign.

It was an incredible renaissance for the ex-Reading man who spent so long as David James’ understudy.

Ashdown was an ever-present, featuring in all 50 matches, as he revelled in his new-found position of regular first-team keeper.

Now entering his eighth season on the south coast, he has a new rival in Stephen Henderson.

But he believes he is better equipped than ever to fight off all comers.

He said: ‘I don’t think I have ever worked so hard in a pre-season.

‘I’m fit – which is an improvement on last year when I didn’t even have a pre-season.

‘Without doubt, this is most fit I have ever been.

‘Running, fitness, diving around, I’m feeling really agile and feel as though I still have another 20 per cent to give in terms of how fit I can get.

‘I still feel energised when I come out of training and ready to do another session. I’m feeling really, really good.

‘I think as I’ve got older I’ve just managed to get fitter.

‘Some people are the other way around, but as I’m getting older I feel so much fitter.

‘I know my own body now and have so much to give. It’s finding time to do it in.

‘I have set a target for next season and where I want to get to.

‘If I can stay fit and as fit as I am now then 50 games will feel like 20 games this season.

‘Keepers seem to get stronger and the age of 35 nowadays seems to be the peak.

‘It used to be 30-31, now that has gone up because people are fitter, surgery is better now, and there is a host of different aspects to why people play longer.

‘It was amazing how I kept fit last season after recovering from a knee operation during the pre-season.

‘I rode my luck and had a few problems last year which I brushed away – but I feel great now.’

Ashdown scrapped his gym work last year after Cotterill felt he was becoming too muscle-bound.

It was an aspect of the keeper’s physique he felt was impacting upon his game.

Some 12 months on and Ashdown has been given the green light to return to the gym.

Except this time he will be focusing on improving the power in his legs as he attempts to become an even better player.

He added: ‘You need to work hard, put the hours in and get the gym sessions in.

‘But throughout last season I didn’t go in the gym once.

‘The gaffer kept saying I needed to bulk down.

‘I was solid muscle and that was through frustration of not playing and finding something else to stimulate my mind in terms of working on other things.

‘Now, after a year out, I’m going back in the gym to work on my legs.

‘The legs have not been as strong as they are now but this is just the start.

‘I’ve had about 14 sessions in the gym. If you do that three days a week over a season how much stronger can you get?

‘It’s good to get back in the gym and work on specifics and get stronger.’