Walker needs a summer of pumping iron

09/03/13''Portsmouth take on Bury in their League Division One tussle at Fratton Park. Liam Walker.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (13689-10)
09/03/13''Portsmouth take on Bury in their League Division One tussle at Fratton Park. Liam Walker.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (13689-10)

Liam Walker must undertake a summer of intensive strength and conditioning work if he wants to convince Guy Whittingham he has a future in the middle.

The Pompey midfielder, who turned 25 last weekend, was afforded a rare start in a central role for the midweek friendly clash against IBV after playing most of the campaign on the left flank.

And the Gibraltar-born player excelled, capping his performance with a cracking goal and showing his range of passing.

But Whittingham remains unconvinced Walker can handle the physical nature of League One and League Two football in the position after seeing him muscled off the ball too frequently this term.

So Walker, who is in his first full season in English football and is still adapting to the physical demands, will be given a weights programme over the close season in a bid to get him ready to mix it in League Two next term.

Whittingham said: ‘I don’t see him playing in the centre for us. Not at the moment.

‘I think it’s still too physical for Liam in the middle in League One and even in League Two.

‘So Liam will have to have a beef up in the summer and get in the gym.

‘It will be no different from any other season. You always give your players fitness programmes at the end of the season.’

Former Blues star Joel Ward benefited from an intensive summer strengthening regime during Steve Cotterill’s tenure after he was sent out to a training camp in the USA.

Pompey no longer have those kinds of resources at their disposal but much will be left to Walker’s own work ethic on how he wants to improve.

Whittingham clearly rates him but wants to see him retain possession more.

The caretaker boss said: I think he could play in the centre but at the moment, we have all seen evidence that he does lose the ball a little bit too often.

‘Nobody is denying that he has got the ability but you have to keep hold of the ball.

‘It was an opportunity for him to play in the centre of midfield the other night and he wanted to try to prove to us he can play there.’