Varney targets flying finish to season

Luke Varney, Portsmouth
Luke Varney, Portsmouth
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Pompey midfielder Stuart O'Keefe. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey injury update: O’Keefe four weeks away from return

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Luke Varney is determined to put the toughest period of his career behind him and fire Pompey to safety, starting against Reading tonight.

Varney is targeting a flying finale to the campaign after finally putting his injury woes to bed.

The striker returned to the fray as a second-half substitute in the weekend defeat to Middlesbrough.

That laid to rest nearly three months on the sidelines, after picking up a knee injury at Burnley in early December.

Now the former Derby man is in line for a start at Reading tonight to help boost goal-shy Pompey.

Varney admits his injury problems and the Blues’ off-the-field woes combined to make it the hardest time he’s ever faced in football.

But the 29-year-old is now focused on delivering a run of form to keep his team afloat in the Championship.

Varney said: ‘It’s been the toughest period of my career, what with the club’s situation and not being able to help the lads.

‘I’ve tried my hardest to be upbeat at the training ground, but it doesn’t help when you can’t play games.

‘If the club were going the right way and hadn’t had the 10-point deduction, I still wouldn’t have liked being injured.

‘But seeing what’s happening behind the scenes and not being able to do anything about it was just horrible.

‘I’m at the stage of my career where I want to play as many games as I can.

‘I’m really pleased to be back and glad I didn’t have no reaction to the injury on Saturday.

‘It’s unfortunate what’s happened but I’m really looking forward to having a strong end to the season.’

Varney called on his Pompey team-mates to put the continuing uncertainty surrounding the club to one side as they travel to the Madejski Stadium.

They face a Royals side in powerful form after picking up six wins on the bounce.

Michael Appleton’s men have failed to record a maximum over the same period, but need to hit a run of form quickly to keep their Championship survival hopes alive.

Varney insists the Blues have to keep a focus on affairs on the pitch.

He said: ‘There’s no point moaning or moping.

‘I think we hear murmurs and you think someone is bound to come in because it’s such a great club with a great bunch of supporters.

‘I just hope someone comes in and completely wipes the slate clean. We don’t want to see shared parties all over the place.

‘It just needs to be someone who takes over, wipes it all away, so we can have a real good go. This club deserves it.

‘We have to get the disappointment of Saturday out of the way quickly as well because the games come thick and fast in March.

‘We know Reading away is one of the toughest games to have at the moment, but we’re ready to go.

‘It’s all go. It’s a tough situation but we have the right manager and the right players to do it.

‘We have to continue to prepare ourselves properly and get the training right because there are so many games this month.

‘Hopefully we can put things right against Reading tonight.’