Pompey seeking to bring best out of midfield man

Pompey midfielder Ben Close Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey midfielder Ben Close Picture: Joe Pepler
Former Pompey midfielder Gary O'Neil

Former Pompey award-winner handed free transfer

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Joe Gallen is hopeful Pompey’s new management team can help Ben Close flourish.

The 20-year-old is vying with Danny Rose and Adam May for a central-midfield spot following the departures of Michael Doyle, Amine Linganzi and Stanley Aborah.

Already, he has caught the eye of Kenny Jackett, particularly with his goalscoring.

Close netted twice in Tuesday night’s Pompey XI victory at Poole Town, with the second a stunning strike from outside the box.

It took his tally to three goals in three pre-season appearances as he strives to impress the new regime.

Although known for his goalscoring at Academy level, Close has yet to net in 27 competitive first-team outings.

But Gallen has been struck by the youngster’s ability.

He said: ‘Ben has got very good technical ability.

‘He’s someone who maybe has not played a lot in the first team so far and was on loan at Eastleigh, but he is one we are working with and one we are hopeful we can bring on and develop.

‘The fans love it when one of their own comes through the system and can play. There is space there so let’s see how he goes.

‘Michael Doyle has left so there’s a gap to fill. There’s Adam May and Danny Rose, too, and Ken will pick whoever he feels has the right attitude.

‘If he feels they are good enough he will put them in and back them – and that will bring them confidence.

‘They understand they are close, when maybe they weren’t too much last year, so that brings them on another 10-15 per cent.

‘You never know, we all need a bit of backing at times from our superiors – and when that happens maybe a player can come out of it.’