Pompey midfielder seeking Eastleigh pick-me-up

Pompey midfielder Ben Close has joined National League Eastleigh on loan for the rest of the season  Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey midfielder Ben Close has joined National League Eastleigh on loan for the rest of the season Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin

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Raised in Fratton and on Pompey’s books since a nipper, Ben Close has now embarked on another short trip.

Eastleigh represents the prized opportunity for regular first-team football as the 20-year-old attempts to banish the frustrations of his season.

I’ve not been involved as much as I would have liked, I’ve had injuries and that has been the main problem for me this season

Ben Close

Competition for places and a troublesome hamstring problem have conspired to restrict the midfielder to only four appearances.

Last term marked Close’s first-team breakthrough, starting 11 Pompey matches.

However, he has failed to make any league appearances during the current campaign.

With his contract up in the summer, a Silverlake Stadium loan spell for the remainder of the season could well signal the end of his Fratton Park career.

In the present, though, it offers precious first-team action for the talented Close.

He said: ‘The gaffer called me into his office on Monday and said I had the chance to go on loan to Eastleigh.

‘He asked how I felt and I agreed. We both believed it would be the best thing for me.

‘It’s definitely a chance to kickstart things, that’s the aim.

‘I’ll spend time with Eastleigh, getting my match fitness back up and hopefully playing well and impressing – then coming back to Pompey.

‘I’ve not been involved as much as I would have liked, I’ve had injuries and that has been the main problem for me this season.

‘But during the last month or two I’ve been feeling back to normal again and pretty good.

‘You can never say for certain the hamstring problem has gone away, but I feel between the strength and conditioning coaches and physios it has now been sorted out.

‘It has been a strength problem. We went to Bournemouth Football Club to get some tests and it came back that was the issue.

‘Since then I’ve undertaken hamstring exercises and leg exercises, being handed a full-on programme which I take up once or twice a week.

‘So far it seems to be working, so I can now focus on my football and enjoy it again.

‘Featuring in Pompey’s reserve games has been enjoyable, especially the Premier League Cup, but there’s nothing like first-team football and trying to climb the league.

‘Eastleigh is a very good level and Martin Allen has told me to be energetic and to bring my natural game.

‘I’m not only going there to play games and be happy with that, though. I want to help them win and climb the table.’

Having joined a National League club, Pompey have a 24-hour recall option after the initial 28 days of Close’s loan.

Meanwhile, he is putting thoughts on his Pompey future to one side.

He added: ‘I am out of contract in the summer.

‘We’ll have to wait and see what happens in terms of that, at the moment I’m just concentrating on playing.

‘I’m not worried about the contract, I’m trying to get some games under my belt first.’