Youngsters’ delight as Pompey fling open doors for training

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Pompey opened their doors to allow supporters a rare glimpse of first-team action yesterday.

Blues followers were invited to Fratton Park in the final week of school summer holidays to attend the open training session.

Pompey fan Billy Hougham receives an autograph off chief executive Mark Catlin. Picture: Habib Rahman

Pompey fan Billy Hougham receives an autograph off chief executive Mark Catlin. Picture: Habib Rahman

Around 800 were allowed into the North Stand and front few rows of the Fratton End to watch the players put through their paces.

Yet it was assistant manager Joe Gallen overseeing the session, with Kenny Jackett laid low by illness and not present.

Also missing was skipper Brett Pitman, another said to have succumbed to illness, ruling him out of that particular training session.

Although Dion Donohue was in attendance, stepping up rehabilitation following a groin injury, joining in with full training.

Pompey held an opening training session at Fratton Park today. Picture: Habib Rahman

Pompey held an opening training session at Fratton Park today. Picture: Habib Rahman

There was also Conor Chaplin, as bright as ever on the Fratton turf irrespective of his self-declared unavailability for match action days earlier.

The striker had informed Jackett he was not in the ‘right frame of mind’ ahead of last weekend’s trip to Doncaster, drawing criticism from fans.

Yet he has continued to train and afterwards joined team-mates in happily signing autographs and posing for pictures for 40 minutes, much to the delight of youngsters.

However, a Coventry loan move ahead of Friday’s 5pm deadline is still expected – providing Pompey can firstly recruit a striking replacement.

There were a number of other familiar faces missing from the Fratton Park occasion, although they had alternative footballing duties lined-up in the afternoon.

With a reserve friendly against Swindon arranged at Pompey’s Hilsea training base, those involved were not instructed to attend training.

They included Luke McGee, Nathan Thompson, Brandon Haunstrup, David Wheeler, Ben Close, Adam May, Danny Rose and Matt Casey.

There was also an outing for in-form Dan Smith, who had been recalled from his Bognor loan spell the previous day following an impressive goal-scoring start.

Sure enough, the first-year professional netted in the subsequent 3-1 success over the Robins.

Also writing their names on the scoresheet were Ben Close and David Wheeler, with Jak McCourt pulling one back for the League Two visitors.

Despite such absences, there were plenty of signatures for happy youngsters to obtain at Fratton Park earlier in the day during an excellent community event.

And even Barry Harris got in on the autograph action – much to his obvious delight.