Clean bill of health is major plus point for Cotterill

Steve Cotterill
Steve Cotterill
Pompey striker Conor Chaplin struggles to hide his disappointment

Southend 3-1 Pompey: They said what?

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A winning start to pre-season, debutants shining, four goals, a bumper crowd and a clean sheet.

For Steve Cotterill, though, the major plus point to emerge from last night’s 4-0 victory against the Hawks at West Leigh Park was a clean bill of health.

Joel Ward, Hayden Mullins, Dave Kitson and Luke Varney were the goalscorers, all netting in the second half.

Of the 17 players used, Greg Halford and Luke Varney, in particular, impressed.

In addition, Academy youngster Ryan Williams caught the eye with a scintillating cameo on the right-hand side of midfield.

Yet Cotterill dismissed the significance of what unfolded in front of a big Hawks gate.

Instead, he was more concerned with not picking up any worrying injuries.

Williams was the only complaint with a tight calf, and was substituted as a precaution.

And the Blues boss was delighted to see his players emerge unscathed and ready for action against Chelsea on Saturday.

He said: ‘That result was all well and good, but we have Chelsea on Saturday so could be on the other end of the scoreline.

‘We are not too bothered about the result, though.

‘We are happy just to get through the game with no knocks and no injuries.

‘It was a competitive game – four goals might flatter us a little bit really when you look at it.

‘It was well hosted by Havant, a good pitch to play on, we were well looked after from the minute we walked through the door. It was a good night for us, for sure.

‘We haven’t been able to get all the players 90 minutes under their belts because it has been a bit of a stop-start pre-season for our boys with a few of them coming back late.

‘But we are happy with how it has gone so far.

‘It was the first 90 minutes for some of them, but not quite all of them at the moment.

‘More importantly, we haven’t picked up any injuries.’