Gary Roberts eyeing regular Pompey spot

Gary Roberts is targeting reclaiming his regular Pompey starting spot after banishing his injury woes.

Gary Roberts. Picture: Joe Pepler
Gary Roberts. Picture: Joe Pepler

The midfield schemer made a return to Paul Cook’s line-up for the impressive 2-2 FA Cup draw at Ipswich.

Portman Road presented the 31-year-old with a first start since October against Stevenage – an absence of 13 games.

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A persistent ankle injury has hampered Roberts’ first-team availability following a summer arrival from Chesterfield.

Yet he now insists that is behind him, having featured in the Blues’ last four matches since making a Boxing Day comeback at Leyton Orient.

With three of those coming off the bench, Ipswich represented the next crucial step.

And Roberts is determined to once again become a fixture in Cook’s starting XI.

He said: ‘It’s great to be back on the pitch and part of some good play again.

‘For me it was another 78 minutes under my belt after coming on as a substitute in other matches and I feel ready now.

‘It has been almost four weeks since I came back from the injury, I feel fine.

‘I felt my movement was good against Ipswich, I had a couple of half chances in the first half which I snatched at but was happy to just be on the pitch and being part of a good performance.

‘Late in the second half I came off as a precaution considering it was my first start for 13 weeks.

‘I have to say Conor (Chaplin) coming on was a good replacement too!

‘Now I feel ready to get in the side. The team are going well and hopefully I can keep my place against Accrington.

‘I don’t like being injured or missing games so it was a long 13 weeks being out.

‘I am not a good one to watch games, I want to be on the pitch, that is when I’m happiest.

‘I’m made up and happy now.’

Pompey face Accrington on Saturday, John Coleman’s side now established as fellow promotion contenders.

Stanley have not hosted a match since November 14, with the worst Lancashire rainfall since records began washing out four fixtures.

For Paul Cook and Leam Richardson it will be the opportunity to face the club they both played for and subsequently both managed.

Roberts also represented Accrington, making 67 appearances and scoring 23 goals.

Now he’s returning to the Crown Ground with Pompey – and encouragingly possessing a total of 131 minutes under his belt since coming back from injury.

He added: ‘It is so frustrating being out, it really is.

‘I scored against Crawley the other week and when you get that goal it means so much because you have been in the treatment room for so long.

‘It was only a tap-in as well, although a celebration for a 30-yarder wouldn’t have been any different!’