John Sullivan looked ahead to his Pompey bow and promised: This is when we get down to business.
Sullivan is expected to make his first appearance between the sticks against the Hawks at Westleigh Park tonight.
The Blues returned for pre-season training last week after two days of fitness tests in Winchester.
But Sullivan knows it’s when the fixtures start that fitness really begins to be honed.
The 25-year-old summer arrival feels building sharpness, and beginning to gain an understanding with his new team-mates, is what the meeting with Lee Bradbury’s side is all about.
Sullivan said: ‘I’m looking forward to the game.
‘We haven’t had too much position play in training yet so I’m still putting faces to positions.
‘But we will get used to each other and then prepare for the games. As a goalkeeper, it’s all about these matches.
‘Havant and Bognor – that’s when you start to get your sharpness.
‘The first few games will be tough. But you get back into your groove with new players.
‘We don’t want to peak too early in pre-season but by the last friendly and August 3 we’ll be bang on it.’
Tonight’s clash with the Hawks marks the first of two local fixtures this week, with a trip to Bognor pencilled in for Saturday.
Pompey then depart for their training camp in Colchester, with a game following that against Braintree next Tuesday night.
Sullivan believes that stay will be important in not only building fitness but allowing the players to get to know each other better.
The former Charlton shot-stopper said: ‘I know most of the players, have heard of them and have played against a few of them.
‘The spirit between the boys is already good and the week when we go to Colchester will be vital for that.
‘It will be breakfast, lunch and dinner together. That’s when people start to come out of their shells.
‘Our squad isn’t the biggest at the minute so the thing we are going to need to have is great team spirit.
‘It’s going to be important for us that we stick together.’
The anticipation surrounding the new season will gear up another notch tonight as Blues fans get to see their newly-formed squad in action for the first time.
That has been reflected in season ticket sales which have broken the 8,500 barrier already – a fact not lost on the new players at the club.
Sullivan said: ‘The fan base speaks for itself. The season ticket sales speak for itself. The lads have been blown away by the sales.
‘They’ve already exceeded last year and close to beating the year before. So we all know the expectations. Even though we are in League Two, we all know this is not a League Two club.’
– JORDAN CROSS