Awford happy to carry on tinkering

Pompey boss Andy Awford Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Andy Awford Picture: Joe Pepler

ANDY AWFORD is ready to carry on tinkering with his Pompey squad.

The Blues boss has been a changing man with his side so far this season.

And he is prepared to carry on operating on ‘instinct’ when it comes to making the big selection decisions for his side.

Pompey picked up their third win on the bounce against Northampton on Tuesday night.

Awford made four changes for the clash against the Cobblers, with the returning Craig Westcarr among the scorers.

That was on top of five switches against Cambridge on Saturday and six new faces coming in for the Capital One Cup win over Peterborough last week.

It’s an approach which has reaped dividends, with the Blues boss’ team picks setting a decent early pace.

Awford’s squad rotation approach is certainly working at present, but he admitted he hasn’t always got it right this season.

He knows and expects players to be disappointed when they are not in the starting XI.

But he underlined the fact they are all buying into the approach.

Awford said: ‘Nobody has been “bombed”, as we used to call it.

‘It’s because I think players need a breather or we have other players better suited to that particular game.

‘That is the benefit I have got with such a strong, competitive squad.

‘That’s what we wanted.

‘It keeps everyone on their toes and nobody’s place in the team is guaranteed.

‘Training is high-intensity and the level of competition is there.

‘There is not one person in the dressing room who moans and groans.

‘They are disappointed if they are not playing. That is for half an hour, but they get on with it.

‘I have made a couple of mistakes with substitutions in the previous games, which I’m learning from.

‘But I think we got that right Tuesday.’

Awford was rewarded on Saturday against Cambridge for staying positive, after Pompey were reduced to 10 men.

Moving to wing-backs against Peterborough and the Cobblers has paid off.

Awford stated it’s gut feeling he relies on for those calls, but knows the margins between success and failure are fine.

He said: ‘I just do what I think is best for the team when deciding what to do.

‘I remember a year ago Guy (Whittingham) got criticised for going gung-ho against Oxford at the start of the season.

‘I’ve been praised for doing it and getting a result Saturday.

‘Guy went for it and it backfired. I went for it and it paid dividends. Sometimes it works.

‘I wouldn’t say I’m too adventurous, but one thing I do go off is instinct.

‘I don’t try to over-analyse things too much and go off that instinct.

‘I’ve made a few mistakes doing that, but in the main I go off that and the first thought is normally the right one for me.

‘When you are umming and ahhing over something I tend to think back to what my first thought was and go with that.

‘But I’ve got Pinky and Perky, too (coaches Paul Hardyman and Alan McLoughlin), and they will calm me down when it’s needed and chuck their two penneth in. That’s brilliant.’