Andrew Stillwell wraps up pre-season and picks his Pompey starting XI for the opening day of the season.

So Paul Cook’s first pre-season has been and gone. What have we learnt about the likely team that he will field against Dagenham and Redbridge in his first game at Fratton Park on August 8th. Well let’s have a quick recap about what’s happened in pre-season:

Havant and Waterlooville

The first three games in pre-season seemed very much about fitness across the whole squad more than team shape. A rare Michael Doyle goal was the highlight however a 5 minute Ben Tollitt cameo set people talking and he has signed a one year deal.

Bognor Regis Town

Only real highlight was seeing Tubbs scoring his first goal under the Cook regime.

Gosport

A young team playing 18 hours after the Bognor game went 2-0 up only for defensive lapses to let Boro back in the game, before Conor Chaplin hit a late winner.

Coventry

Conor Chaplin, playing in his preferred role of behind the striker scored one and made one. Nigel Atangana seemed to be everywhere in midfield.

Woking

Matt Clarke, our loanee from Ipswich Town scored one and made an impression on the Pompey fans. The other player to have made a huge impression on the fans is Gareth Evans who made it two in two games with an all-action performance at right wing.

Gillingham

A cagey 0-0 draw with Gillingham employing man to man marking against Bennett and Roberts with the biggest issue being the supply line to Tubbs.

So who do I think is going to be in the starting 11 versus Dagenham?

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Why have I chosen this 11?

Goalkeeper – Paul Jones 

With budget being used elsewhere, Jones position is safe at the moment but like all previous players that have recently exited, this will be subject to performances being acceptable in Cook’s eyes during the season ahead.

Right Back – Ben Davies

Davies experience is going to be key alongside Doyle however the lack of being a right back specialist could be an issue away from home.

Centre Back – Christian Burgess

With Robinson’s surprise departure the centre back pairing looks certain to be Burgess and Clarke.

Centre Back – Matt Clarke

I know we have Christian Burgess and Adam Webster but in the fleeting views of Clarke and let’s remember he’s just 18 is that he is our best central defender. Cultured, physical and solid, fully expect him to make a multi-million pound move to the Premier League in the next few years.

Left Back – Enda Stevens

Enda is going to be a significant attacking threat for us. Probably more than our right back.

Defensive Midfielder – Michael Doyle

Now captain, from pre-season Doyle is the talker of the team. Directing things with his high energy game, coupled with years of experience.

Defensive Midfielder – Nigel Atangana

Adam Barton was signed and many expected him to start the game. However injuries to him have meant there has been a shoot out between Ben Close and Nigel for the slot alongside Doyle. Atangana’s high energy and gangly style have won this duel at present, however like Robinson he needs to perform week in, week out otherwise Barton and Close will be in and such is the competition for a midfield berth it could be a while to get it back.

Right Wing – Gareth Evans

Kal Naismith has done very well in pre-season but Gareth Evans has done even better. Providing excellent width, never stops running and willing to get beyond the front man will see Evans start.

Left Wing – Kyle Bennett

Not featured that much in pre-season but having played with Enda Stevens down the left for Doncaster it makes sense to carry on that understanding. Whilst the forward line has had an injection of pace, Kyle Bennett is one or two levels above that.

Number 10 – Gary Roberts

On form it should be Conor Chaplin, in reality it will be Gary Roberts. In pre-season you can see he is cruising, when he steps onto the pitch for the first time in anger there will be a massive expectation for him to deliver.

Striker – Conor Chaplin

Before the Coventry game I had Tubbs, given the understanding Roberts and Chaplin seem to have built up I am going for young Conor’s youthful exuberance up front.

Get in touch on Twitter @PompeyNewsNow or via email pompeynewsnow@gmail.com if you would like to share your blog or fancy covering a game next season.

Photo credit: Colin Farmery

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