Pompey to embark on Irish tour

Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler

Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Preparations for another promotion push will begin in the Emerald Isle this summer.

Ireland will host Pompey’s pre-season tour – with two fixtures thrown in.

July 4-10 has been pencilled in for Paul Cook’s squad to be based across the Irish Sea for a training camp designed to underpin the latest bid to escape League Two.

The trip will involve friendlies against Cook’s former club Sligo Rovers and Bohemians, provisionally for July 6 and July 9 respectively, before returning to Fratton Park at the end of the week.

It means the usual curtain-raiser against the Hawks will instead be switched to a midweek occasion – with a date to be finalised.

Last summer Cook took his players to Vale de Lobo in the Algarve for a week-long bonding session.

The much-changed playing staff also trained during their stay in Portugal, yet the trip was chiefly to harness a team spirit.

This time around – and the bulk of his squad having been in place for 12 months – the emphasis is on work as Cook visits the country where he served as Sligo boss for almost five years.

The finishing touches are being put to preparations, yet Pompey’s boss is convinced the trip will be beneficial.

He said: ‘Last year we went to Portugal so all the players could bond. In Ireland we need to train properly, it’s a training camp.

‘Portugal was more lads getting to know each other, a game of golf and a pint.

‘I thought it was better for the lads to get to know each other socially rather than running up and down and seeing who can run faster than you.

‘It was more of a bonding session but this time we’ll go to Ireland to train and work.

‘We also have two matches over there and they will be our first pre-season fixtures so effectively will be training games for us.

‘I promised Sligo I would take a team over for a player’s testimonial there.

‘Bohemians will be more serious, especially with our fans travelling to watch on a Saturday afternoon.

‘The trip will be good for our supporters. Bohemians play in Dublin, so geographically they can get there by flight. We’re still finalising things but I’m looking forward to it.’

Sligo are a League of Ireland premier division side based at The Showgrounds in County Sligo.

As Rovers boss until February 2012, Cook enjoyed plenty of success – leading them to the FAI Ford Cup and the EA Sports Cup, as well as third in the Airtricity League in 2010 alone.

He later steered them to back-to-back FAI Ford Cup victories.

Their league programme began in March and they are presently seventh in the table – three places above Bohemians.

Bohemians are located at Dalymount Park in Phibsborough, on the north side of Dublin. Known as ‘Bohs’, they are one of the most successful clubs in League of Ireland history.

Pompey have already announced a friendly at Steve Claridge’s Salisbury on Tuesday, July 19.