Training return gives glimpse into Jackett's Pompey era
A different manager, a new training pitch but the League Two title holders were unmistakable.
Pre-season today officially kicked off as Pompey’s trophy-winning squad reunited in preparation for their latest challenge.
Granted, the absences of Michael Doyle, Enda Stevens and David Forde from the Copnor Road venue were highly noticeable.
Yet, reassuringly, there were many familiar faces among the 28 players present for the beginning of the Kenny Jackett regime.
Paul Cook’s replacement gathered together his new squad for a 30-minute address to start the day.
Then it was straight on to the training pitches where, intriguingly, the bulk of activity on the opening morning of the first day was focused on ball work.
Pompey had elected to christen the freshly-completed training pitches adjacent to the Rugby Camp, whose construction had been funded by supporters.
The Tifosy campaign raised £270,000 by its August 2014 end – and now the club are utilising the pitches bought by their fans.
The playing surface looked impeccable as Jackett involved himself in his maiden Pompey training session, assisted by Joe Gallen.
Also active in coaching was Robbie Blake, who opted to remain at Fratton Park in the aftermath of Cook’s defection to Wigan.
Settled in the area, the former Burnley striker brought to the south coast by the Blues’ previous manager remains on the backroom staff – and today was a vocal presence.
Elsewhere, another familiar figure was goalkeeping coach John Keeley, who also turned down a DW Stadium switch this summer.
He spent time putting three goalkeepers through their paces, among them Alex Bass and the Academy’s Jack Collins, who is now in his second year as a scholar.
The identity of the third keeper, sporting the number 24 shirt, is believed to be Harry Isted, formerly with Stoke.
He was on Pompey’s books until 2010 before opting to join Southampton – and later arrived in the Potteries.
In terms of outfield players, Amine Linganzi was not present having been told there was no longer a deal for him.
The midfielder had been keen on a Fratton Park return, a prospect which had been considered by Jackett, but ultimately it did not materialise.
Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain did take part, however, as Pompey seek to reach a new deal with the out-of-contract midfielder.
There was also a fresh face in the form of Lawrie Wilson, an attacking right-back formerly with Bolton.
The 29-year-old made 26 appearances for the Trotters last season as they won promotion to the Championship, but has since been released.
Wilson and Isted represented the only triallists.
Meanwhile, Michael Smith took part in a running session away from his team-mates as he recovers from an ankle injury picked up during his Northampton loan spell.
And there’s not long to wait for the first friendly – it’s Saturday at Salisbury.