The final whistle may have sealed Pompey’s 2-2 draw with Burton – but the dynamic Ben Thompson was just warming up.
The energetic midfielder covered an exhausting 10.5km during Tuesday night’s Fratton Park encounter.
When it ended, he insisted he was ready to carry on, such has been the escalation in fitness levels courtesy of regular first-team football.
The Millwall loanee arrived at Fratton Park in August desperate for game time.
Following an initial flurry of outings for Kenny Jackett’s side, he has recently re-established himself in the starting XI, earning successive man-of-the-matches in the process.
And the tireless 23-year-old is adamant his fitness levels are thankfully now back to full capacity.
Thompson said: ‘That's why I had a spell out of the team, my form dipped because of fatigue, tired legs. Three games in a week is tough, no matter what anyone says.
‘Coming straight back in and playing three games in a week, my body wasn’t ready for that and it didn’t work out – now I’m back in the team and feel as fit as anything.
‘On Tuesday evening I ran what I do in a normal game and didn’t feel I had run that much, that just shows how much my fitness in evolving.
‘Against Burton I ran 10.5km and didn’t think I was that tired after the game. I felt tired, of course, but not to the point where I am normally going to bed and zonking out straight away.
‘That’s where the fitness comes in. The training here has been excellent, the training regime has been tough, and it puts you in good stead for the game.
‘Normally I’m shattered afterwards, feel a bit sick, am leggy, I just want to get home. After Tuesday night’s game I was buzzing, upbeat – and reckon I could have played longer!
‘Players fatigue towards the end of a game and I think that’s when I come into my own. I can beat a player, run up the pitch and improve as the match goes on.’
Thompson found himself a bit-part player at The Den following Millwall’s promotion into the Championship in May 2017.
Now signed up at Fratton Park on a season-long loan, the decision to seek football elsewhere has proven a wise one.
He added: ‘When I was at Millwall I wasn’t playing that much. I had a game here and there in the cup and came on as a sub in the Championship – that’s football.
‘I had to come out on loan and I suppose am reaping the rewards now. I’m enjoying my football again, playing well, and top of the table. I can’t ask for much more.
‘It has been great to come here and actually get some minutes. I get better and better the more I play, feeling more comfortable in the side. It’s part of football.’
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