Cotterill: Tour delay has not hurt us

Steve Cotterill.  Picture: Steve Reid 112472-170
Steve Cotterill. Picture: Steve Reid 112472-170
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Steve Cotterill believes Pompey’s pre-season plans have been unaffected by their travel disruption.

The Blues boss and his troops were left stranded in America on Thursday when their return flight to the UK was cancelled after a catering truck damaged the aircraft prior to boarding.

That meant Cotterill spending a lengthy period trying to re-organise the squad’s return, with the last of the remaining players and staff back home by yesterday – two days later than planned.

But after seeing Saturday’s pre-season clash with Spanish side Real Betis fulfilled by non-league neighbours the Hawks in his side’s absence, Cotterill used the extra time for another fitness session with his Blues stars.

And he maintains his side’s preparation remains firmly on track for this weekend’s opening Championship clash of the new season at Middlesbrough.

Cotterill said: ‘If an aircraft is damaged, there are people better qualified than me to decide whether we flew back in it or not.

‘What can you do if someone damages the plane?

‘It’s in complete contrast to last year when we were continually grounded.

‘I don’t relate anything this year to what happened last year. It’s nothing like it.

‘We’ve all been well looked after and we got another day’s training, which is no problem.

‘It was obviously a major disappointment missing the game against Real Betis at the weekend.

‘But I honestly don’t know what anyone could have done about it.

‘The only thing is we haven’t had that extra game.

‘But I think the lads are in great shape anyway – the one thing they are is fit.’

Cotterill spent several hours at Charlotte airport attempting to get everyone in the travelling party rescheduled.

And he knows his men were not the only people affected.

He said: ‘It was a bit of a late night trying to sort a few things out but I felt it was my responsibility as manager.

‘But we were not the only people inconvenienced – there were maybe 300 people booked on that plane.

‘I’d rather we stayed here that bit longer to make sure that everyone gets home safe and sound.

‘You wouldn’t want to risk any of the passengers in that situation and they don’t ground you for no reason.’

Cotterill has decided against hastily organising another friendly before the weekend and will instead get his men ready for the season opener at the club’s training ground this week.

The Pompey manager said: ‘Sometimes these things happen for a reason.

‘We are light on the ground at the moment and we could have ended up playing Betis and getting two or three injuries.

‘It’s probably too late to try to organise another game now.

‘Whether we needed one more game is almost irrelevant.

‘We’re sorry to people who bought tickets to come along and watch us and we’re sorry to Real Betis as well but there’s just not a lot we could have done.’