Ben Close willing to consider loan away from Pompey

Ben Close has admitted he would relish a loan opportunity for regular first-team action.

Ben Close. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ben Close. Picture: Joe Pepler

But he is willing to continue fighting for a Fratton Park place if required.

The 19-year-old made his first league appearance of the campaign when he climbed off the bench against Oxford United on Saturday.

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It was a 35-minute cameo alongside Michael Doyle which caught the eye, despite the 1-0 defeat.

Paul Cook has named the midfielder from Fratton in the starting line-up for four cup fixtures this season.

Yet Saturday represented Close’s first League Two outing since May 2 against York City.

And following the departure of Nigel Atangana and injury to Danny Hollands, the youngster is hopeful for increased Pompey involvement.

He said: ‘It’s great to be back involved at present, so hopefully I can now get into the team and play as much as possible.

‘The players who have played in midfield have done really well.

‘Adam Barton has recently been in really good form, Michael Doyle is skipper and it was a shame for Danny Hollands getting injured when he’s been in fine form.

‘I have just got to be ready to take my chance when it comes but I definitely need games.

‘We haven’t looked at a loan yet but if the opportunity arose and myself and the club felt it a good idea then I am sure it would happen.

‘Jack (Whatmough) has gone to Havant after being out for ages because he needs games to get his fitness and touch back.

‘It has been a long time since he has played football, so any level of football is good for him.

‘Whatever the right thing is for me I am prepared to do it.

‘Whether it is to go out on loan or stay here to fight for my place, I am happy.

‘I am more involved at the minute. My aim is to start matches and play full games over 90 minutes but I’m sure what is the best thing for me will happen.

‘I have faith in the gaffer that he will choose the right decision for me – whether to go out on loan or stay here.’

Cook is an admirer of Close and in August oversaw him penning a contract extension until the summer of 2017.

The youngster was trusted in midfield against Championship sides Derby County, Reading and Ipswich Town in cup matches this season.

He also skippered the Blues against Exeter City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Close added: ‘It has been a strange season.

‘I started it really well playing against Derby and Reading, then got a niggly hamstring injury.

‘After that it was my quad in the same leg which set me back but I am over them now.

‘I’m fine, my fitness is good again and I think I’ve come into good form.

‘I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.’