Beautiful view - but Appleton has sight set elsewhere

Pompey training in Benahavis in Malaga for their pre-season camp
Pompey training in Benahavis in Malaga for their pre-season camp

For Michael Appleton, the glorious Benahavis surrounds offer sunshine, excellent training facilities and a welcome haven from financial distractions.

Most crucial of all, it provides the opportunity to learn.

Learning about triallists, learning about the development group, learning who is ready to be part of Pompey’s future.

The 10-day training camp situated in southern Spain effectively hands a magnifying glass to the Blues boss.

The location is a village set sky high in the hills, reachable only by car or coach, where even the television sets in the rooms have trouble getting a signal.

Based there are 18 Pompey players under close scrutiny with no place to flee from the manager’s unswerving gaze.

It’s a chance for Appleton to assess the personalities and mental make-ups of those contained within the walls as he contemplates his squad for the coming League One season.

The area near Malaga was previously visited by Appleton back in early 2006 during a mid-season break with West Bromwich Albion.

Now he has returned, this time at the helm of a League One outfit – and observing every minute detail of his squad.

Appleton said: ‘I have 10 really strong days to see what they are about, put them under a little bit of pressure and see if they can cope.

‘I believe you get to know about the players you are trying to sign off the field as well as just seeing them on the field.

‘Whether you are watching them in the stands, whether watching them in a DVD or whether watching them as part of the opposition, you don’t really find anything about their character.

‘Yet if you come away for 10 days, you get to see how they behave off the field.

‘Even with the young lads, this trip offers the opportunity to step up to the plate – and, for me, the chance to see what they are about.

‘I think that is important, I want to find out what makes them tick, just as much off the field as on it. I want to see them at close quarters and how they do things.

‘I think there has been a good mix in the squad, to be honest. We’ve got a lot of triallists here and the group as a whole tend to get on really well.

‘Funnily enough, it’s as if almost everybody is on trial.

‘You have got a group of kids desperate to impress – and they have been involved on a regular basis – and a group of triallists desperate to stay at the football club.

‘And it’s actually a good group to work with.’

The trip has been funded by a Fareham businessman and the Gibraltar FA.

During their stay, Pompey are also scheduled to play Gibraltar (Friday, July 19) and Brighton (Tuesday, July 24).

Unsurprisingly, while England continues to wilt under the wet weather, Appleton is satisfied the right decision was reached to venture abroad for the bulk of pre-season work.

He added: ‘You have got all sorts of benefits coming here.

‘Everything is on site so the players get to eat, sleep and train properly in the right way.

‘It’s a beautiful place, chilled and you get a little bit of the weather that you want during pre-season.

‘We are concentrating on a bit more tactical stuff and a bit more shape stuff, albeit with a group of players we are hoping we can get to the football club and a few of the development group.

‘And from a climate point of view, everyone keeps telling me it’s still raining back home!’