Eastwood work ethic reaping rewards

8/12/12_TRANMERE_POMPEY'Actiojn from Tranmere Rovers vs Pompey at Prenton Park.''Picture: Steve Reid (123963-930)
8/12/12_TRANMERE_POMPEY'Actiojn from Tranmere Rovers vs Pompey at Prenton Park.''Picture: Steve Reid (123963-930)

The extra homework has helped catapult Simon Eastwood to the top of his class.

Now the diligent Pompey keeper is determined not to let his advantage slip away.

The 23-year-old is in the Blues’ first-team following the departures of both Mikkel Andersen and Alex Cisak.

Eastwood sees it as the culmination of his endeavours on the training pitch – often long after his team-mates have gone home.

Under the tutelage of John Keeley, in addition to strength and conditioning coach Chris Neville, he has been putting in extra hours in a bid to improve his game.

Whether it be in the gym or out on the pitch, Eastwood has been spending at least two days a week working overtime.

The former FC Halifax player is adamant he is a better keeper for it.

He will once again be in the starting line-up tomorrow, for the visit of Preston.

And he has no intention of easing down now he has achieved his first-team goal.

He said: ‘I’ve been working hard every day and now feel sharper and better than I have ever felt in my career.

‘Whether it is working hard in the gym or on the training field, I’ve wanted to do it and it’s paying off.

‘To be fair, every club I have been at, the goalkeepers work harder than everyone else and nine out of 10 times we are the last ones in. Even when we arrive, John (Keeley) gets us out early – 45 minutes before the lads come out.

‘Then me and John usually stay behind afterwards and I like to work on my kicking. It only takes 20 minutes but makes a massive difference, especially doing it two or three times a week.

‘When Mikkel was here he didn’t do that, but it’s something I believe in. I like to work hard.

‘Nev (Neville) is brilliant as well and designed a gym programme for me that is goalkeeper-related, which has also been a really big help.

‘On Tuesdays and Thursdays I go to the gym trying to get stronger, spending a couple of hours in there.

‘That has really helped me bulk up. The weights have made be stronger and more powerful, especially when diving where I get a little bit of a spring.

‘With crosses as well it helps if you are strong. For instance, getting everybody out of the way when trying to claim the ball.

‘I really believe the extra training work has helped me reach shots I couldn’t stop before.

‘John always told me to work hard and it will come. Well, after four or five months, it has paid off.

‘I have never really felt as good as I do now and a lot of it is down to him.’

Eastwood has now made five appearances since joining in the summer.

The arrival of Phil Smith has given him competition from the bench.

But Guy Whittingham has been pleased with Eastwood’s progress.

And he will now get a run in the side, providing his performances are satisfactory enough.

He added: ‘I feel confident in myself. I have been working hard, putting the time in and transferring it on to the pitch.

‘Hopefully I can get a couple of games under my belt and get some consistency.’