Awford: Essex pre-season crucial for Blues

Pompey boss Andy Awford

Pompey boss Andy Awford

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Andy Awford believes Pompey’s Five Lakes return can inspire his players’ pre-season.

The Blues will set off for Colchester on Monday morning to spend six days at the Crowne Plaza resort.

It is a reunion with the Essex venue the club visited in pre-season last year under then-boss Guy Whittingham.

During their stay, Pompey will face Thurrock on Tuesday, July 22 (7.45pm) and then end their trip at Ebbsfleet on Saturday, July 26 (3pm).

The days of training in Hong Kong, Nigeria, America, France and Spain are no longer part of today’s Pompey fabric.

Nonetheless, Five Lakes offers time away for Awford’s men.

And the Blues boss believes it represents a crucial part of their preparation for the forthcoming League Two campaign.

‘We’ll be travelling to Five Lakes on Monday morning, having some lunch and then training in the afternoon,’ said Awford.

‘The idea is for the players to have some time away from the city which can, with the greatest of respect, be claustrophobic.

‘It’s nice for them to get out and about a bit more and spend some time with each other.

‘That’s what a pre-season is all about – and there will also be two matches.

‘Don’t get me wrong, the players will work hard and the facilities at Five Lakes are very good, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth going.

‘But going away is important, it breaks the pre-season routine and sometimes it can help getting out of the area you live and work in for a while.

‘I’ve actually been there before. I was there a few years ago with the youth team when we were in the Premier League youth league and stayed overnight on the way to Norwich.

‘I recommended it to Guy (Whittingham) last year, along with Steve Allen (former Pompey physio), because the facilities – such as the pool, gym and pitch – are excellent.

‘Now we’re going back there and believe it can be very important to our preparation for the season ahead.’

Ryman League division one north side Thurrock are located 41 miles away from Pompey’s temporary Colchester training base.

Next Saturday Awford’s men will check out and head to Conference South team Ebbsfleet, situated in Northfleet, Kent.

They represent the final away trips of the summer, with Awford’s men hosting Bournemouth (July 29) and Charlton (August 2) at Fratton Park.

‘There are two games while we are away and not everybody will play against Thurrock,’ added Awford.

‘Unlike the Hawks and today’s Bognor match, I will have some sat in the stands and that will also happen at Ebbsfleet.

‘Everybody who comes to Five Lakes will spend some minutes on the pitch, some will play in both. It’s something we will be addressing game-by-game.’