Jack Whatmough has outlined his determination to be in Pompey’s starting line-up on the opening day of the 2018-19 campaign.
The Gosport talent ended last term on the sidelines, with a groin injury ruling him out of the final two games.
But since the setback, the defender has been working hard on his fitness in a bid to hit the ground training for the return to pre-season next month.
Whatmough missed the majority of the 2017-18 season with a knee injury picked up last September, sitting out more than six months out of action.
He regained a regular starting spot in Kenny Jackett’s side in March – ousting Christian Burgess from the team.
Yet his nine-game streak was cut short with a groin tear picked up in the 1-0 defeat at the hands of Charlton in April.
The 21-year-old, who missed 17 months with an ACL injury in 2014, admitted he got ‘a bit down’ after suffering the setback.
But he’s been putting in the graft in Bally’s Boxing Gym to ensure he’ll be in peak condition for when the Blues return to duty next month.
Whatmough said: ‘I haven’t really had a rest yet this summer.
‘I’m just battering my legs to give myself every opportunity I don’t come back with anything. I go on holiday on Friday and I’ll have a bit of a rest there, then I’ll go again when I get back.
‘I was just shielding the ball out (when the injury occurred). From then on it just didn’t feel right.
‘Then I went for a scan on the Monday and it came back I had a grade-two tear.
‘It was a biggish one but the physios at the club and those who helped me with my ACL injury said I was bound to pick one up.
‘It’s just how you deal with it and don’t beat yourself up. I was a little bit down after the groin tear because I thought surely I’ve got to be done with injuries now.
‘But you’re going to pick up muscle injuries and big injuries throughout your career.
‘It’s just how you deal with them and working back to how you were. I feel strong and I feel fit.
‘Now I’ve got to get back to that and get the season going.’
Although Whatmough was disappointed his campaign ended prematurely, he was pleased to have played so many consecutive matches.
He counts himself fortunate to have forced his way back into the team – and is now determined to pick up where he left off.
The defender added: ‘It was upsetting I couldn’t finish the season. But, for me, I played nine games on the bounce after seven months out. That was good for me. Look at Tareiq (Holmes-Dennis).
‘We had quite similar injuries and he was unfortunate not to play again, so to play any games in the year was a bonus for me.
‘It was good to be back. I would have liked to have finished last season but hopefully I can start next season where I left off.’