Burgess has overcome the travel bug to be part of Portsmouth's latest promotion bid

Christian Burgess just can’t shake off the travel bug, but thankfully wasn’t confined to his sick bed for long.

Sunday, 4th August 2019, 9:00 pm
Pompey defender Christian Burgess Picture: Joe Pepler

Summers are customarily spent exploring far-flung parts of the world for Pompey’s jet-setting central defender.

On this occasion he travelled to Borneo, Nepal and Malaysia – Asian adventures gloriously depicted on his well-populated Instagram account.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Pompey defender Christian Burgess at Gangapurna Lake in Nepal during the close season. Picture: @burgey44 on Instagram

A crippling stomach illness cost him 4kg in weight – and the opening two days of Pompey’s pre-season training.

Entering his fifth Blues campaign, it’s hardly ideal preparation for retaining his hard-earned first-team place following the twin arrivals of Paul Downing and Sean Raggett.

But, as the Fratton faithful will testify, Burgess – who started yesterday’s opener at Shrewsbury – can never be written off.

He said: ‘It’s hard to say where the bug came from, isn’t it.

‘I possibly caught it on the flight, there’s a possibility when I was at home, I don't really know. It hit me hard and unfortunately I had to miss the first couple of days training.

‘It was like a sickness bug, so I was in bed with all the symptoms of vomiting, muscle cramps, fever, that sort of thing.

‘I was back in Portsmouth the day before pre-season started and felt fine, then about 2-3pm it just hit me and I thought “Oh no, surely not”. I had to text the physio saying “I’m not going here, I’m struggling”.

‘I thought I’d be okay for the second day of training, but the gaffer took it out of my hands and told me to take another day off. To be fair, it was the right decision because by the next day I still wasn’t ready.

‘I lost 4kg, I couldn’t eat much for the two days, just a few slices of toast, the appetite wasn’t there and everything was coming up.

‘When I returned to training it was a case of doing everything I could nutrition-wise and strength-wise in the gym. It’s not easy putting 4kg back on overnight.

‘I don’t normally miss many training sessions and was a bit worried about it, but you can't really help these sort of things, you have to take it and try to get back as soon as possible.’

Since arriving in June 2015 from Peterborough for an undisclosed fee, Burgess has amassed 166 appearances and scored eight times.

He returned to the first team in February following Jack Whatmough’s long-term injury, producing some of his best form for the Blues.

The campaign ended in disappointment, however, following play-off semi-final defeat to Sunderland.

Yet Burgess remains optimistic he can still add League One promotion to a League Two title and the Checkatrade Trophy.

He added: ‘We petered out in the semi-finals, they were rather boring games, the fans probably expected a lot more.

‘You think back to that Plymouth 2-2 draw a few years ago, but against Sunderland we didn’t give anything to lift anybody and it was hugely disappointing.

‘That’s how things go, though. I am not sure if it was an entirely good performance from either side.

‘It was an unfortunate end to the season, we all dreamt of getting the club up and all dreamt of being at Wembley another time.

‘There is still a lot of experience in the squad, the gaffer has added some good players and it’s an attractive club to come and play for.

‘Promotion last year would have been the cherry on the top of my experience here – and one more thing to strive for this season.’