Defender steps up recovery

Ben Chorley in pre-season action against Ebbsfleet Picture: Joe Pepler
Ben Chorley in pre-season action against Ebbsfleet Picture: Joe Pepler

Ben Chorley’s return from injury has not been hampered by the cancellation of yesterday’s reserve game.

The influential defender was due to play in the clash with Cambridge United, only to see his hopes dashed because of a waterlogged pitch at the University of Portsmouth’s Langstone Campus.

But while Blues boss Andy Awford was disappointed to see the fixture fall victim to the weather, he anticipates having the centre-back back in his plans for Saturday’s League Two trip to Bury.

Awford said: ‘I had Ben earmarked for 45 minutes in the reserve game but, unfortunately, the weather got the better of us.

‘We had the groundsman down there at 7.15am as we had to make an early call so that Cambridge didn’t travel.

‘It would have been a wasted journey because the pitch wasn’t playable.

‘Instead, Ben had a good 90 minutes on the artificial surface, so I don’t think it has knocked him back.

‘It was an intense session and he completed that without any reactions.

‘Of course, you can’t ever replicate the intensity of a game situation.

‘I would probably have preferred him to play in the match, rather than a training session.

‘But I don’t think it has delayed him too much in terms of getting back into the first team.

‘I’m hoping that he should be in contention for Bury this weekend.’

It’s been a frustrating spell for the former Stevenage man who has missed six weeks of action with a dead leg and then a calf problem.

His last appearance came in the 1-0 defeat to Newport County at Fratton Park on August 30.

A place among the substitutes looks the most likely target for Chorley this weekend, with Awford perhaps wary of throwing him straight back into first-team duty after a lengthy absence.

But the Blues boss looks unlikely to be able to welcome back anyone else.

Jack Whatmough is recovering from a hamstring strain, while Adam Webster underwent knee surgery after the Mansfield game and is expected to be out for several weeks.

Tom Craddock, Wes Fogden and Danny East are still on the long-term injury list.

Awford said: ‘Apart from Ben, I think we will probably be as we were last weekend in terms of injuries and availability. Adam has had his operation, Jack is still out and we have the long-term absentees.’