Midfielder sets sights on catching eye of Pompey boss

Pompey midfielder Ben Close. Picture: Neil Marshall
Pompey midfielder Ben Close. Picture: Neil Marshall
Pompey midfielder Ben Close. Picture: Neil Marshall.

Close: Injury won’t hamper my Pompey progress

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Ben Close thanked Hawks for the tough workout as he set his sights on catching Kenny Jackett’s eye.

The Southsea midfielder got 45 minutes under his belt as his side picked up a 2-1 win at Westleigh Park on Saturday.

Close made a return from the injury which kept him out of the Ireland training camp in the searing summer heat.

The 21-year-old had words of praise for the National League new boys as Pompey had to come from behind to pick up the win.

He admitted Lee Bradbury’s side offered his team a stiff test of their credentials as they step up their pre-season preparations.

Close said: ‘The conditions were tough.

‘It was extremely hot but it was an ideal pre-season workout for all the lads.

‘It’s about trying to build some fitness to prepare us for the season.

‘And it’s also about trying to impress the manager and get yourself a place in the team for the first game of the season.

‘It’s absolutely about building relationships over the pitch, too.

‘It’s about getting to know the new players and building on the relationships which are already there from last season.

‘Ultimately, though, you want to impress the manager.

‘They stretched us well and their long balls were pretty effective in the first half. They didn’t really give us a moment to play, especially early on. They made it a tough test.’

Pompey fielded all of their five new summer signings against the Hawks.

Craig MacGillivray started in goal, while Ronan Curtis, Tom Naylor and Lee Brown all started in the first-half team which appeared to be Jackett’s favoured XI. Louis Dennis was used in the second as Jackett completely changed his side.

Close belies the new faces certainly added something to Pompey’s options.

He added: ‘They look very good. They all bring something different.

‘There’s youth, experience and some pace.

‘All round they’ve added quite a lot.’

Conor Chaplin was the man to get the winner with six minutes remaining, with a typical piece of predatory finishing. That followed on from his two goals in the 4-1 win over Cork City last week.

Speculation persists over Chaplin’s future, with Coventry having a bid rejected. Close knows his side would be losing a predator in the box if his team-mate departs.

He said: ‘He’s finished it off really well and there was another great effort with a volley.

‘He just looks like he’s going to score when he plays.’