Portsmouth striker Ronan Curtis raring to go ahead of Sky Bet League One play-off against Oxford
The former Derry City forward had been in top form for Pompey this season before the league was suspended due to the Covid-19 crisis back in March.
And while he admits he and his teammates feel somewhat aggrieved not to get the chance to continue their challenge for automatic promotion, he’s exciting about the prospect of returning to action later this month.
Portsmouth were sitting just two points behind second placed Rotherham in the table, however, a majority of clubs in the division this week backed the option to curtail the remaining games.
With the final standings determined on a points-per game basis, fortunately for Curtis, the Blues were safely in a play-off spot and will now face Oxford United in the semi-finals.
So with potentially three games remaining to determine if they secure promotion to the EFL Championship, Curtis can’t wait to get back on the pitch.
And the St Johnston native insists he will be physically and mentally ready for a return!
”You never lose your confidence,” said the Ireland international.
“I know I have the ability, skills and my mindset is right so on the day you’ve just gotta turn up.
“So I’m raring to go and all the boys are raring to go. We just can’t wait to play the game.”
Two Portsmouth players tested positive this week after mandatory testing before training but Curtis admits the mood remains positive among the group and he’s confident the unnamed duo will be back in time for the play-offs.
And their playoff opponents, Oxford, have also confirmed two people within the club are self-isolating after giving positive results for coronavirus in Thursday's testing. Curtis, however, is in positive mood.
“Things are moving quickly now. It’s been nearly three months without kicking a ball but now we’re back to full contact training.
“Two of our teammates have caught it but they’re staying away from the training ground and the rest of the boys as they isolate.
“Hopefully the boys can rest up and recover and they might be back for the second leg of the play-offs.But things are looking up and we’re going to the play-offs. So there’s a few interesting weeks to come.”
Portsmouth lost out to Sunderland in the League One semi-finals last season but Curtis is confident they can go all the way this year.
“We set high targets for the past two years since I’ve been here and we’ve got to the play-offs every year. Hopefully this year we can do it and it would be the icing on the cake to get up to the Championship and make a fresh start next year.”
Portsmouth’s friendly against Brighton this weekend has been called off and Kenny Jackett’s side lost 3-1 in Sunday afternoon's behind-closed-doors match against Reading which represented their first friendly of the summer. They.have further games lined up and Curtis is 'buzzing' to be back on the pitch.
“It’s just amazing to get back out there and train with the boys and get the chance to finish off the playoffs.”
“We’ve then got two big playoff games for Ireland then so there’s a big couple of months coming up. We could be in the Championship by then but we’ll see what happens.”
A date for that UEFA European Championships playoff against Slovakia has yet to be confirmed but Curtis is looking forward to meeting up with newly installed Ireland boss, Stephen Kenny and former Derry City midfielder, Ruaidhri Higgins who has taken up a role with the senior coaching staff.
"I know Ruaidhri from Derry and Dundalk obviously playing with him and against him so I'm looking forward to meeting up again and seeing Stephen Kenny and his structure of play and be on his side rather than against him this time. So it will be good.!