Portsmouth midfielder Ben Close gives verdict on battle to start with Rangers loanee Ross McCrorie as he readies himself for Birmingham test

Ben Close is ready to face his challenge for a Pompey starting spot head on.

Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Sunday, 11th August 2019, 12:00 pm

The home-grown midfielder is in line for his first start of the season against Birmingham City in the Carabao Cup tonight.

The Blues open this year’s competition in the televised clash against the Championship side at Fratton Park.

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The Southsea talent is up against stiff competition for a starting spot, after McCrorie’s arrival from Rangers and the likes of Tom Naylor and Andy Cannon to call on.

But after 118 senior appearances and 45 outings last term, it’s a test Close now feels well equipped to rise to.

He said: ‘You can’t sulk, strop or shy away from it.

‘If someone comes in it’s not a case of thinking I’m not going to play now and that’s it.

Ben Close

‘You can’t lose your confidence and your morale.

‘You have to take it on the chin and understand the manager is trying to do the best thing for the club.

‘I’ve got to be ready to take my chance when it comes. Every player in this squad will get a chance.

‘We’ve got competition for places all over the pitch and there’s real strength in depth.

‘Every player has to face that challenge this season or keep their place.

‘Nayls (Naylor) has already shown what he can do, Ross has come in and done really well. He’s a very powerful player.

‘I’m a different sort of player again.

‘We do need different kinds of players and I feel we have real strength this season all over the pitch.’

Pompey are out to get their first victory of the season tonight ahead of Tranmere’s visit to Fratton Park on Saturday, as they are given a quick chance to bury their New Meadow disappointment.

Close added: ‘There’s no panic buttons being pressed.

‘We lacked a bit of quality in the final third on Saturday.

‘A lot of the time we would have won that game by one or two goals, but it was disappointing not to show our quality further up the pitch.

‘It’s behind us now and we have the Birmingham game to look forward to and start to put it right.

‘The main thing is to play games, the team to win and performances to be high. That’s what we want against Birmingham.

‘It’s a chance to beat a team from the Championship - and I’m looking forward to that.’