How 'perfect' Ben Close fits Danny Cowley's Portsmouth promotion blueprint

Ben Close has been pinpointed as a pivotal presence in Pompey’s promotion push.

By Neil Allen
Thursday, 8th April 2021, 6:00 am
Ben Close has re-emerged to be a key figure in Pompey's revival under Danny Cowley. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ben Close has re-emerged to be a key figure in Pompey's revival under Danny Cowley. Picture: Joe Pepler

The rejuvenated midfielder has emerged from the wilderness to kickstart the Blues’ late-season play-off drive.

Certainly Ryan Williams is convinced his team-mate has a ‘massive’ part to play under Danny Cowley.

Williams makes no secret of his admiration for Close’s intelligence and passing capabilities which he believes boosts Pompey’s attacking credentials.

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And he’s keen for the 24-year-old to continue being given the freedom to inspire the Blues.

The Australian international told The News: ‘It’s his passing range, his touch, his awareness.

‘As a central midfielder in the way we play, Closey is perfect for us. His range of passing is really, really good, he can turn on the ball, he’s great to play with because he can find you in pockets.

‘He has been the same player throughout the season, but this really suits him. That’s fortunate for him and fortunate for us.

‘Closey’s the kind of player that when you go and press, he doesn't just give it straight back.

‘He’s very smart, very intelligent, and will see where you are and turn on the ball if you’re not close enough. If you are close, he’ll pop it around a corner and run off the back of you.

‘How we play at the moment suits him down to the ground and he’s getting better and better with every game.

‘I love playing with him. He’s the link between the defenders and the forwards, he can see a pass and come short.

‘His influence for the rest of the season can be massive.’

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Close had been omitted from 11 successive Pompey squads before his surprise recall at Wembley in March.

That cameo in the penalty shoot-out defeat to Salford signalled an impressive return for the forgotten man.

He has subsequently been handed four starts in the Blues’ next five matches.

That includes three consecutive starts under head coach Danny Cowley, who has openly heaped praise on the Pompey Academy graduate.

Similarly, his team-mates are saluting the significance of Close’s re-emergence.

Williams added: ‘Closey played really well at Wembley, that’s what gave him that bit of confidence.

‘To be fair, he has stuck at it all season, got his head down, got on with his work and now has his rewards.

‘If he keeps playing how he is, he’ll probably have most of the passes in our team.

‘Get him on the ball in these positions and he links the attack and can be massive for us.

‘Closey has stuck at it all season, battled away to try to win his spot back, and now he’s managed to do that.’

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