THE COUNTDOWN to the big kick-off is accelerating.
Pre-season has gone and served it’s purpose, and the anticipation which arrives with the onset of a league campaign is building.
Training will this week go through the gears, as players aim to put themselves in contention for those 11 desired starting spots at Exeter.
Supporters could see them do that for themselves yesterday, at an open training session for Fratton Park.
Awford admitted the personnel of his side is pretty much defined for the St James Park showdown.
But he highlighted the fact there is a busy period of games to think about after Saturday.
Awford said: ‘Jones or Poke? Wynter or Webster? Hollands or Atangana? Barcham or Holmes? Bird or Taylor? Devera or Chorley? Ertl or Whatmough?
‘These are the decisions which have to be made all over the pitch.
‘We will build things up this week now, although we have to be careful of pushing them too hard.
‘Yes, I probably do know my starting XI.
‘But there is a team to go for Exeter and there will be a team ready to go for Peterborough and a team ready to go for Cambridge.
‘We are trying to find the right balance and the right formula. We’ll get it right.
‘We want a good week building up to Exeter. We want to get down there on Friday and then have a good go at it.’
Despite having a good idea of where things are now standing in terms of personnel and formation, Awford’s still guarding against curve balls.
Wes Fogden’s extended spell on the sidelines with a cruciate injury and Patrick Agyemang pulling up with a hamstring injury last week underlined that.
‘As we’ve seen, you pick up bumps and bruises and it changes,’ Awford said.
‘Foggy would have played on Saturday, without a shadow of a doubt.
‘He would have definitely been right in the thick of it. After what he did at the end of last season, he would have been there.
‘So then you are changing things around and working things out.
‘So, yes, I have an idea of where we are going and the how things will be for the first few games of the season.
‘As I say, though, you pick things (injuries) up as the season goes on. Hopefully we won’t pick up so many.’
A 4-2-3-1 formation looks nailed on to be the way Awford goes for the Exeter clash in terms of formation.
But he explained he is still looking at options which can give him variety on that front.
He said: ‘We’ve been looking at things. We played Nigel Atangana off the front on Saturday to see if he could do that role.
‘If he doesn’t start at Exeter, and he might, we might have to bring him on.
‘If we want to be more secure that is a role he can play. I’ve seen him do it before for Havant & Waterlooville.
‘He might do more of a holding role, but he can do that and when he plays there he is tall so he wins his flick ons. He can then join in with the front men.
‘I played Miles Storey as a number nine as well. We wanted to give him his legs and see if he can run in behind. We are looking at things all the time.’