Portsmouth midfielder determined to tackle an improvement

Ben Close is maturing, his game evolving '“ and tackling clout intensifying.

Friday, 28th September 2018, 9:32 am
Updated Friday, 28th September 2018, 10:39 am
Ben Close is attempting to enhance his tackling skills. Picture: Joe Pepler

The midfielder has identified the necessity to enhance his combative skills to align with a natural ability to pass the ball intelligently.

As a consequence, the 22-year-old is pushing to improve on the tackling nature of his displays in Pompey's engine room.

By Close's own admission, his all-round game still has room to develop during an ongoing blossoming in regular first-team football.

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Ben Close is attempting to enhance his tackling skills. Picture: Joe Pepler

On Saturday the Blues head to Rochdale seeking to increase their unbeaten nine-match start to the League One campaign which leaves them second.

Close will be hoping to retain his midfield spot, fending off the challenge of Ben Thompson for a while longer.

And he's hoping adding a fresh dimension can aid his cause.

The Fratton youngster said: '˜Tackling is part of the game I need to do more of and improve, although there are other parts of my game to develop as well.

'˜You watch players tackle, see how they are doing it, observe top-class players '“ and try to also bring that into your game.

'˜Some players are naturally good at it. You can improve on all parts of the game, some more than others, and I'm just trying to improve everything as much as I can.

'˜Maybe I'm not as natural at tackling compared to someone like Tom Naylor, you get different players like that.

'˜Naturally some are good at tackling, naturally not so good, naturally good at heading, naturally not so good, and you get technical players, too. You need a real blend in teams to be successful.

'˜I would like to think it's an aspect I am improving at. It's obviously not where I want it to be '“ but if I want to push on I need to get better with it.

'˜How I become a better player is to bring more parts to my game and also learn from other players.

'˜Although, I suppose the best form of defending is intercepting and reading the game well enough so you don't have to put in that last-ditch tackle or go to ground.'

The mild-mannered Close is not a player who amasses bookings.

Although, he was punished for dissent in the recent 2-1 victory at Peterborough '“ a matter he is not particularly proud of.

He added: '˜I was booked for dissent at Peterborough. It was frustrating, you obviously can't do it but the ref was driving us mad.

'˜Oli Hawkins was being fouled a lot and not getting anything, they were winning soft free-kicks which weren't really fouls, and Matt Clarke was clearly fouled in our box.

'˜I shouldn't have done it, but it's hard to keep it under control sometimes.'

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