Pompey’s pre-season opener at Cork City has taken on an added attraction, with Damien Delaney pencilled in for an emotional comeback.
The former Crystal Palace central defender left the SSE Airtricity League club in 2000 to seek his fortune in the English game.
It’s a journey which has seen him spend the last five seasons in the Premier League with the Eagles, his most recent appearance arriving in a 1-0 loss to Spurs in February.
Now aged 36, he returned to his first club earlier this month – and is pencilled in for a second Cork coming against Kenny Jackett’s men.
Delaney is eligible to turn out for the Rebel Army from July 1, when his existing Palace deal expires.
And that puts him in the frame to line-up against Pompey on Monday, July 2, for the Turner’s Cross friendly (7pm).
The fixture represents the maiden match of the Blues’ pre-season, having today returned to training.
In contrast, Cork are 23 matches into their season, presently sitting top of the Premier Division table.
It’s sure to be a tough early baptism for Jackett’s men, barely five days into their summer schedule in the build-up to the 2018-19 campaign.
Reigning champions Cork are a point clear at the summit, having won 18 of their 23 games so far.
On Friday they travel to second-placed Dundalk for a crucial encounter in their season’s destiny.
Meanwhile, the club the Blues recruited Ronan Curtis from, Derry City, sit fifth following four defeats in their last five fixtures.
Pompey fly to the Republic of Ireland on Sunday for a six-day stay in Fota Island, Cork.
During that period, the encounter with Cork represents their sole friendly, before returning on Friday, July 6, ahead of the Saturday, July 7, clash with the Hawks.
The club were last in Ireland during the summer of 2016, when Paul Cook’s men faced Sligo Rovers and Bohemians.
On that occasion they were based in Dublin for the week’s duration, collecting a 3-3 draw at Sligo and a 2-0 victory at Bohemians.
Cork, however, will offer much stiffer competition, although all clubs currently operate in the Premier Division.
John Caulfield’s men last season won the league and cup double, having started the campaign with a 22-match unbeaten run.
They have been similarly impressive during this term and will welcome Pompey to Turner’s Cross on Monday (7pm) for what is expected to be a big gate.