Roberts: ‘Demanding’ Cook’s fitness regime is spot on

Gary Roberts on the ball against Crawley. Picture: Joe Pepler
Gary Roberts on the ball against Crawley. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gary Roberts believes ‘demanding’ Paul Cook’s fitness regime can provide the backbone to Pompey’s promotion aspirations.

The Blues find themselves undefeated after four matches following Tuesday night’s goalless draw at Crawley.

It was a frustrating result for the visitors, who once again dominated possession, racking up 61 per cent despite being away from Fratton Park.

Once more the fitness levels of Cook’s side shone through as they dominated the clash and kept pushing for a breakthrough.

Pompey’s work-rate has been a noticeable characteristic to their early season start.

And Roberts, who played under Cook at Chesterfield, insists fitness represents a crucial part of the manager’s promotion masterplan. The midfielder said: ‘The work-rate of the side has really impressed me. The manager demands hard work.

‘From the two lads holding behind us, they work their socks off to give us the ball, while the lone striker – whether it be Tubbsy or Jayden – is a hard job which demands hard work.

‘We had a tough pre-season because the gaffer demands you have to be fit.

‘He is a demanding manager who wants you to work hard with the ball and work hard without it.

‘As a team we have to work our socks off with each other and we are getting closer and closer to getting it.

‘In terms of fitness requirements, he is the hardest manager I have ever worked with. He demands every day, not just match days and now he is at Portsmouth – such a big club – the high expectations are on us.

‘The fitness demands are high but we stick to it. I knew what I was coming to, I knew what he expects of us – and the lads have bought into it.

‘If you don’t do that and you don’t work hard then you won’t play for the team, it’s as simple as that.

‘People pay a lot of money to come to watch us, the least you can do is work hard for 90 minutes, get your head down, run about and work hard.’

Pompey have kept the same side for the opening three League Two matches, which have produced seven points from a possible nine.

Changes appear to be necessary, however, for Saturday’s visit of Morecambe following Ben Davies’ hamstring injury at Crawley.

Regardless, the settled side has allowed the players to not only adjust to Cook’s fitness demands but also his favoured 4-2-3-1 system.

And Roberts believes the attacking midfield three of himself, Gareth Evans and Kyle Bennett have bought into the fitness regime.

He added: ‘We have some flair players in the team and if you look at our games as a whole, people such as Gaz Evans, Kyle and myself work our socks off.

‘It’s hard work. You have to work hard without the ball and we work our socks off for the good of the team.’