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Sunday, July 25, 2010
Portsmouth suffer the pre-season tour from hell

Soccernet staff

Portsmouth boss Steve Cotterill will be a relieved man with the club's North American tour finally over, which ended with a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of DC United.

The club suffered horrendous transport problems, while their kit and medical supplies went missing en route to Washington. The defeat was of little concern to Cotterill after the club had to endure a 28-hour journey just to get to the match.

He said: "I am happy with the players. I'm not happy with the result, but their performance in the circumstances was good. They have been through an horrendous journey and tour and played in ridiculous conditions. We played well for 20 minutes and then it was sporadic after that.

"I've never travelled for 28 hours to get to a game before, that's for sure. They were great in the circumstances. I don't have a bad word to say about them.

"The one thing about this result is that it's shown the position we're in. It's painful. We've got some good honest senior lads here and some youngsters who are trying their hardest. The kids have got to be at full tilt to be anywhere near the team, and we're going to be playing in a man's league in a couple of weeks' time."

Portsmouth, on tour in the United States and Canada despite still being in administration, struggled with a threadbare squad largely made up of youth players.

Cotterill was already furious at the decision to travel to North America with the start of the Championship season now less than two weeks away. The tour was arranged before he took over last month, and Cotterill would have preferred to remain in England.

The tour had started badly enough last week with their journey to San Diego from England to play Mexico's Club America taking 42 hours after a connecting flight was cancelled. Two players were injured in the next game, against an Edmonton select team on July 21. Tom Kilbey damaged his knee while goalkeeper Jon Stewart broke his leg and both are out long term.

Then, after being stranded in Chicago for the best part of 28 hours by a lightning storm, the players were able to get just four hours sleep and had not trained for three days before facing MLS side DC United on Saturday in 100 degrees Fahrenheit heat. During that storm all of the club's luggage was left out in the rain, and 14 bags never made it to their destination.

Including in those 14 bags was the Portsmouth kit, meaning they had to borrow a strip from DC United for the match.

Michael Brown told the club's official website: "After a cancelled plane the boys got up at three in the morning to get another plane that was then delayed which meant we got to Washington just a few hours before the game.

"The temperature at the stadium was unbelievable. The lads all lost 4kgs. That tells you how hot it was. It was very humid. We came from Edmonton, where it wasn't too hot, straight to this. But, just like throughout the two weeks, we've had to deal with it.

"I think the boys have done fantastically to keep their heads in the situation we've been placed in. They've shown a very good attitude.

"We have a lot of kids in the side who aren't ready yet. In the Championship we need players who are ready to go straight in. But come the Fulham game on Saturday we might have a few more players. We need players sooner rather than later."

Goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown, out of contract and hoping to sign a new deal when the club's future is secure, was injured in a collision with team-mate Joel Ward and Hayden Mullins was one of three players sent off in the game. Santino Quaranta of DC saw red after appearing to spit at Mullins. Julius James was also dismissed for the Americans.

Cotterill slammed the refereeing as "ridiculous" and "appalling."

"I can't believe he's been allowed to officiate a game," he said. "I've never seen anything like it in my life."

Richard Hughes, Mullins and Tommy Smith all suffered injuries during the tour.

Portsmouth should land back in England on Monday, and are in action against AFC Bournemouth on Wednesday.




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