Close relishing going head-to-head with ex-Portsmouth skipper at Coventry 

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Ben Close is adamant he is ‘relishing’ being pitted head-to-head with Michael Doyle.

Although, the midfielder is braced for a tough evening of combating the ever-aggressive Pompey title-winning skipper.

Michael Doyle holds aloft the League Two trophy when Pompey skipper

Michael Doyle holds aloft the League Two trophy when Pompey skipper

Doyle will face the Blues for the first time since departing in May 2017, having captained them to the League Two crown.

After 97 games and three goals, the veteran linked up with former club Coventry City to be closer to his midlands home.

Having led Mark Robins’ side to promotion through the play-offs last season, the Irishman will now line up against Pompey at the Ricoh Stadium tomorrow night (7.45pm).

And former team-mate Close believes it will be an intriguing midfield battle.

Ben Close Picture: Habibur Rahman

Ben Close Picture: Habibur Rahman

He said: ‘I’m relishing the chance to play against Michael Doyle – really!

‘He's a great player who was here with a successful squad, so having the opportunity of playing against him is an exciting one.

‘Michael is a physical player, an aggressive player, and you play against those type of players every week.

‘Even in training he was aggressive, always wanted to win, didn’t take people not trying, and that is why he’s got to where he is. He’s a born winner.

‘Players were afraid to train poorly, you couldn’t have a bad session, you would get hammered for it.

‘He’s one of those players that will do anything to win, that’s why he’s had such a successful career and still playing now.

‘Physically, he has kept himself in great shape, one of the fittest players when here along with Gaz Evans, so a tough competitor. It will be tough whoever plays against him.’

Conor Chaplin is ineligible under terms of his initial loan deal with the Sky Blues.

Yet the likes of Doyle, Tom Davies, Liam O’Brien and Dominic Hyam represent former Fratton Park team-mates of Close now featuring at the Ricoh.

Robins must make his team selection – but Doyle will definitely be in the side.

Close added: ‘As captain he would drill into us we were going to win, we weren’t going to lose, and it did spread across the team.

‘If you were on his team in training you would probably be winning and – on a Saturday – he would bring that winning mentality into the side.’

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