BEN CLOSE is relishing fighting off the increased threat to his Pompey first-team spot.
And the determined midfielder is targeting stepping up his game to succeed.
Tom Naylor’s arrival from Burton creates added competition for roles within Kenny’s Jackett’s engine room.
Coupled with Danny Rose’s return to fitness following a break leg and suddenly Close’s hard-earned presence is being challenged.
The Southsea youngster made 45 appearances and netted twice during last term’s breakthrough season.
He’s in no mood to relinquish that Blues involvement.
Tom Naylor has arrived, which is what we need, we need improvement all over the pitchBen Close
And Close recognises the tough task which lies ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.
He said: ‘I want to play just as many games and it’s going to be a big ask because we’re going to be bolstering the squad this summer and signing some good players.
‘It will be tough, but I want the same amount of games – and to end the season with a promotion.
‘There’s always competition for places, you just have to be better than whatever is put in front of you.
‘Tom Naylor has arrived, which is what we need. We need improvement all over the pitch – the better the quality then the more chance we’ll have of promotion.
‘I don’t know a lot about Tom, but have heard good things and seen good reviews online.
‘He’s a holding midfielder and, from what I can make out, quite a defensive player – yet in midfield you need different types of players.
‘You need strong defensive players, but also require players who can create things going forward. The more variation we have in there is only going to help.
‘I’m aiming to start that first game and every week my next aim is to start the following match. That’s the same mindset as last year.
‘The teams that went up last season all had big squads and big players to choose from, so if a player is out of form someone is ready to come in.
‘With winning squads you need players always on their toes. Those on the bench and even out of the squad must be ready to come straight in.
‘This year with our new signings I think we’ll have that, there’ll be good strength in depth, which is only going to further our challenge for promotion.’