Kenny Jackett insists lack of high-profile friendly opposition won't affect Portsmouth preparation

There is a distinct lack of showpiece opposition among Pompey’s summer schedule.

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 11:58 am
Updated Friday, 21st June 2019, 1:21 pm
Dutch side FC Utrecht represented high-profile Pompey opposition in last season's pre-season schedule. Picture: Ben Queenborough

For Kenny Jackett, though, the significance of facing big-name teams during pre-season preparation can often be overestimated.

The Blues’ players are booked for a training return on Thursday, June 27.

They will then embark on a seven-game friendly programme ahead of the August 3 start to the League One campaign.

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A trip to League of Ireland Premier Division side UCD kicks it off on July 10 – arguably the most high-profile of all their pre-season opponents.

There is also the Hawks (July 13), Stevenage (July 20) and Crawley (July 27).

While a Pompey XI have midweek fixtures at non-league trio the Rocks (July 16), Aldershot (July 23) and Woking (July 30).

And Jackett is satisfied with the challenge that schedule offers his promotion-hunting side.

He said: ‘We have to take what we can get.

‘If there are some big, high-profile games in the Premier League, that’s great, but it’s hard to get those matches, those guys don’t necessarily want to commit early and all of a sudden are looking for big money.

‘It’s hard to get the ones right at the top, it’s very difficult and not necessarily possible either.

‘But the pre-season period is about getting your team ready, whoever the opposition are, and generally you don’t play anybody at your level.

‘You try to work a pre-season programme which has to suit you and gives you a chance of starting the season well.

‘I don’t think it matters if you haven’t got a big name. I do think the opposition in pre-season is sometimes a little bit irrelevant.

‘What matters is how you start the season, you need pre-season to work on your team.

‘You generally overachieve when you are playing up, and underachieve against the sides when you are playing down, that happens a lot in pre-season.

‘Hence it’s tough to gauge pre-season results against how you are going to start.’

Fratton Park, of course, will not be hosting any summer friendlies.

With the pitch being relaid with a semi-artificial surface and ground development taking place, Pompey have had to sacrifice their customary home match.

And Jackett revealed an important factor in pinpointing pre-season opposition is the quality of playing surface.

He added: ‘You are looking for good playing surfaces. Swindon, Stevenage and those type of grounds which have very good pitches.

‘Eastleigh's pitch was relaid a couple of years ago and we called it off. It’s no going playing on a pitch and losing players in pre-season.

‘When I arrived at this club, Paul Cook had organised a friendly at Sutton United, but we called it of. An Astroturf game in pre-season wouldn’t suit me.’