Midfielder out to become Pompey driving force

Ben Close celebrates his maiden Pompey goal at Blackpool. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ben Close celebrates his maiden Pompey goal at Blackpool. Picture: Joe Pepler
Danny Rose in action against AFC Wimbledon last season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Date set for Pompey’s Carabao Cup first-round tie against AFC Wimbledon

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Ben Close has targeted becoming a midfield force with Pompey.

The Blues’ home-grown talent believes he can make a big impact under Kenny Jackett after committing his future to the club.

Close has signed a new deal tying him down until the summer of 2020 after an impressive League One campaign to date.

The Southsea midfielder is having the time of his footballing life following 20 appearances this term.

Close believes he can grow in his role as he aims to enforce his influence on games – starting at high-flying Shrewsbury tomorrow.

He said: ‘I’m really pleased to have got the contract sorted.

‘The past couple of months I’ve really enjoyed my football and now the task for me is to keep it going.

‘I had 12 or 13 starts under my belt and that left me wanting more.

‘I picked up an injury at a frustrating time but it was only a small one. Now I want to get back into the side and play games.

‘This is the time where I’ve had the longest run in the team.

‘It’s not getting easier, but I’m learning more every week and I’m learning quickly.

‘It’s the most I’ve enjoyed my football.

‘When I first came into the side, I was just trying to keep my place.

‘I wanted to get picked the next week, but as the weeks went on I was looking to have more of an effect on games.

‘I wanted to get around the pitch more, have an impact and get into both boxes.

‘That started to happen before the injury, but now I want to pick up from where I left off.

‘I’m finding myself in attacking positions and better goalscoring positions.

‘That’s from playing consecutively and getting fitter.

‘I’m getting more confident all of the time.’

Close’s fortunes represent a turnaround from last season.

He made just four Pompey appearances – and failed to see a minute of league action.

He added: ‘You can’t fault Paul Cook for the decisions he made because his team went on to win the league.

‘It was a successful year and he took the club up, but it was a frustrating year for me to not be playing.

‘It’s completely different this year. I feel like a better player and I feel fitter.

‘I’m just thankful to the manager for giving me that chance to play.

‘I think fitness was an issue last year and my injuries were a part of the reason I wasn’t playing. Then I was fit, training and getting little bits.

‘I wanted to play more but it wasn’t to be. Hopefully, that’s passed me now.

‘You need a bit of luck. I’ve been injury free until recently and able to train every day and play.

‘I’ve been fit and once you get a few games under your belt you feel fitter. It just went on from there.

‘You have to work hard, but it finally feels like it’s coming together.’