Midfielder joy as Close Pompey pals stay

Ben Close's delight at Pompey pair's stay
Ben Close's delight at Pompey pair's stay
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Pompey’s young guns remain intact and inseparable.

And Ben Close is delighted firm friends Alex Bass and Brandon Haunstrup are sticking around for another season at least.

The Academy trio have climbed the ranks to feature in the Blues first-team under Kenny Jackett.

While Close has established himself, last season also marked breakthrough campaigns for Bass and Haunstrup.

Such has been their encouraging progress, the younger pair this summer had their Fratton Park stays extended, with Haunstrup handed a fresh two-year deal. And Close believes both deserve such recognition.

He said: ‘It’s good news for the club to keep those two on, they both deserve it. Both are good mates and I rate them highly as players, too, so it’s great to have them around longer.

‘In the Academy, Brandon played up with us quite a bit around the years, every time he featured last season he did well, most games he was really impressive.

‘Bassy is a great up-and-coming keeper. He was a couple of years below but we soon started noticing him. He learnt a lot from that one game against Peterborough, took a lot of confidence and realised he could do it at that level – and can look forward to more games.’

Matt Clarke completes Pompey’s four musketeers, who in mid-May embarked on a close-season trip to the Amendoeira Golf Resort in the Algarve.

Clarke is The News/Sports Mail’s player of the season and the club’s prized asset. And Close is adamant the central defender fully deserves the accolades which continue to be amassed.

He added: ‘Matt was given the player of the season award and deservedly so. If he can produce something like that this year it’s something we are going to need in order to get where we want to be.

‘He got my vote for players’ player of the season, too, for obvious reasons. He has been such a tremendous player for us – at the heart of everything good – and hopefully he can do it again this season.’