Striker finds answers to sweat and tears

Patrick Agyemang celebrates his goal against Oxford in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy with team-mate Yassin Moutaouakil Picture: Joe Pepler
Patrick Agyemang celebrates his goal against Oxford in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy with team-mate Yassin Moutaouakil Picture: Joe Pepler

Patrick Agyemang believes he has finally solved the fitness riddle that has troubled him for his entire career.

The 33-year-old started the first 11 games for Pompey this season – and failed to make it to the final whistle in any of them.

But while most fans thought fatigue was to blame for his early withdrawal, the striker has revealed that muscle cramp was the problem.

Although that issue is normally associated with a lack of stamina, the well-travelled front man believes it has now been properly addressed for the first time in his long career by phsyio and assistant manager Steve Allen.

And the treatment has seen him play the full 90 minutes in two of his past three games.

Agyemang explained: ‘Sometimes I was taken off as a precaution.

‘But other times I was actually struggling with cramp quite a lot.

‘I’ve had it throughout my career but nobody has been able to give me an answer until now.

‘They thought I was unfit or I was just getting dehydrated quickly.

‘I do sweat a lot. I would get to half-time and my shirt was absolutely drenched.

‘So I lose so much fluid and body salts that I need to put it back in somehow.

‘I don’t think anyone was aware of what it was before.’

While Agyemang takes on board extra fluids, he is now also taking Quinine – a medication to help reduce the cramps.

And the four-goal forward believes it has taken away much of the physical discomfort, while also easing the mental anticipation of knowing what’s coming.

‘Before, I would get to half-time and think “I’m going to get cramp soon” – but now I’m not feeling it and it’s out of my head,’ said Agyemang.

‘Steve Allen thought it would make a difference and so far it has.

‘We have taken a few precautions against the cramp now. I drink a lot more and it helps with dealing with it.

‘But I think it’s a bit of both. I’ve had a few more games and got a bit fitter and the drink is helping as well.

‘It’s good that it seems like it’s been solved. Hopefully, that will carry on now.’

Agyemang is a vital cog in the Pompey wheel but believes he is still in the process of adapting his game to a different role.

He said: ‘We were playing a lot more attractive football at the start of the season but we weren’t seeing the games out.

‘We were probably playing the best football I’ve seen us play but we weren’t always getting the results.

‘So we’ve been a bit more direct a times because we’ve been trying to grind out games and results.

‘I don’t mind being a bit more of a target man.

‘I haven’t really played that role down the years but I’ve had to adapt.

‘When I was younger, I was quicker and went past players with my pace and skill.

‘But through the years I have lost that a bit and have gone through a transition to be a target man.

‘Now I’m bringing everything into play a bit more with the skill and the ability to hold the ball up.

‘But I think I’m a much better all-round player these days.’