Farewell to one of Portsmouth's humble own - tasked with fulfilling his Championship potential at Doncaster Rovers

The one thing everyone could agree on was Ben Close had reached a stage of his career where he could no longer settle for a place on the bench.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 6:00 pm

And that mindset has sent the promising midfielder on a journey which has now arrived at Doncaster Rovers - and severed a lifelong affiliation with his hometown club.

It’s a crying shame the Southsea lad will not get the opportunity to fulfil his potential at the outfit he supports.

But it’s also an inevitable outcome.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As a disappointing season came to a dispiriting finale, Close spoke with optimism of remaining at Fratton Park as his contract drew to a close.

The 24-year-old had been brought in from the cold by Danny Cowley and had featured in every game he’d been available for - starting all bar one of those fixtures.

The academy graduate was looking for clarity on the path forward as the sun set on Pompey’s season against Accrington. When it arrived, it became increasingly clear his future would lie away from the team he’d made 10 games shy of 200 senior appearances for.

Pompey’s hand may have been forced to an extent by the reduced budget he’s working with this summer, but it’s also an offer which spoke of a player who didn’t lie at the heart of his boss’ plans.

Ben Close

Cowley can ill afford to use up a substantial portion of his kitty on men who, in all probability, would have been squad players moving ahead.

Of course, there’s always the potential for a player to shake up how they are being viewed, but the periphery was not a place Close wanted to occupy moving forward.

Among the many questions Cowley was asking when conducting his due diligence over the Pompey job, was why the heck wasn’t the midfielder featuring under Kenny Jackett?

Ultimately, the answer appeared Jackett just didn’t fancy him anymore and perhaps felt he hadn’t kicked on in the manner he’d hoped.

Of the players available to the new head coach, Close best suited the midfield pivot role and was the option who could drop deep and pick up possession in the patterns of play laid down by the new management team.

Ultimately, however, it appears Cowley feels he can do better moving forward, paving the way for a departure which is tinged with some sadness for the kind of consummate professional any manager would love to work with.

Speak to any of his team-mates, past or present, and they will have only positive things to say about the former Wimbledon Park Tigers player and the qualities he offers a team which can sometimes go unnoticed to the untrained eye.

It wasn’t too long ago coaches who worked with Close were fielding calls from Championship clubs, doing their homework on the composed ball-playing youngster down at PO4.

The goals he has shown he has in his armoury haven’t consistently followed, however, and perhaps the challenge moving forward for him is to rediscover the spectacular finishes and clever assists which would elevate a humble one of our own into the complete midfielder.

Success with that ambition, and Close will be bound for the level many who’ve worked most closely with him still believe he can rise to.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

There’s a shake-up going on at Fratton Park and you don’t have to miss a thing.

You can now get all our Sports coverage for less than 11p a day when you use the discount code PROJECTREBUILD25 at the checkout.

Click here to sign up before June 8 and show our expert Pompey writers your support.