On this day: Adams fears Pompey ace is heading for burn-out

Niko Kranjcar. Picture: Joe Gidden/ PA Images
Niko Kranjcar. Picture: Joe Gidden/ PA Images
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On this day a decade ago, Tony Adams feared Niko Kranjcar was heading for burn-out.

Pompey’s assistant boss was concerned the European Championships would be a competition too far for the 23-year-old following an exhausting Premier League campaign.

The cultured midfielder played 48 domestic and international games during the FA Cup-winning season – more than any other Blues player.

It was that relentless workload Adams believed was the reason why Kranjcar’s form dipped in the league run-in.

He would represent Croatia at Euro 2008, with their campaign kicking off against Austria.

And Harry Redknapp’s right-hand man warned the former Hajduk Split man was facing possible meltdown.

He said: ‘Niko’s got the European Championships, which won’t be a good thing for Portsmouth.

‘That’s on top of a long season – and as a player you need a long break in the summer.

‘We are going to have to look at him in pre-season and see what kind of schedule we can have him on. But we are a little concerned about him.

‘Niko’s actually played more than any other Portsmouth player this season.

‘He’s played regularly in the league and Cup and then gone on international duty for another 12 games on top.

‘Someone like Sylvain Distin has missed two games all season but we’ve been giving him days off in the international week. Niko hasn’t had that.

‘I think you could tell that at the end of last season Niko had gone a little bit.

‘It might have been fatigue, it might been a few things, but he looked tired.

‘We laid off him and rested him for one game against Black-burn when he played 45 minutes.

‘Overall, we have been looking after him physically.

‘Let’s not forget, the difference between him last season and this season is he works for the team defensively and works a lot harder.

‘He’s realised what the English Premier League is about.

‘He’s got back into shape, worked hard and done what is required.’

An outstanding European Championship for Kranjcar would have got the vultures circling.

But Adams shared no concerns over the stylish schemer being tempted elsewhere.

He added: ‘Niko’s shone. He’s got goals for Portsmouth, he’s got goals for his country. He’s been my player of the season.

‘He’s a quality player doing well. We finished in the top half of the table, we won the FA Cup. He’s playing well for his country – it’s inevitable to be linked to other clubs.

‘It should be a complement to how he’s doing at Portsmouth.

‘This is a stage and there is no reason to leave it.’