Awford mulls over fresh Fratton deals

Ricky Holmes, right, will be out of contract next summer   Picture: Joe Pepler
Ricky Holmes, right, will be out of contract next summer Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford’s thoughts have turned to the players who will be out of contract at the season’s end.

But the Pompey boss has stressed there is no rush to instigate the majority of them to put pen to paper.

There are 16 Blues players whose existing permanent deals expire next summer.

They include Nicky Shorey, Ricky Holmes, Ryan Taylor, Dan Butler, Ben Chorley, Patrick Agyemang and Joe Devera.

Also on the list are Adam Webster, Wes Fogden, Ben Close, Nick Awford, Bradley Tarbuck, Jack Maloney, Tom Craddock, Danny East and David Connolly.

Clearly some tough decisions lie ahead for Awford, particularly with the Blues boss, at this stage, uncertain what division of the Football League his team will feature in next season.

Yet, already Pompey’s manager is contemplating his squad make-up.

He said: ‘There are quite a few out of contract and that is something we are obviously aware of.

‘I am looking at it properly now if I am honest, you are assessing it all the time and I know who is in and out of contract at the end of the season.

‘Certainly, come January, contracts will start to come into it for forward planning, although it’s difficult because you don’t know what league you are going to be in.

‘I wouldn’t rule out some new deals within the next few months, there are two or three I could say straight away “we would like to do that”.

‘I think we have a good nucleus of a squad here and a lot of the lads could definitely come with us if we went up.

‘New contracts are certainly something on the agenda, it is not one we have just parked.

‘In the summer I actually had a couple of our players who are out of contract (at the end of the season) knock on my door and ask the chances of a new one – I said you needed to earn that right first.

‘For me, 15 games in isn’t long enough to earn that right, it is a whole season’s work so before I start dishing out contracts they need to earn it.’

In addition to the 16, the season-long loans of Miles Storey and Alex Wynter are up in the summer.

Potentially permanent progress could develop, although Awford is aware juggling of the budget is required with all those out of contract.

He added: ‘There is only so much budget.

‘So using Ricky Holmes as an example with using stupid figures, if we gave him £10,000 a week more then it starts now and I have to find money for that in this year’s budget.

‘If we can do things within budget then we will do, but that might increase my budget which may then stop me getting in a loan player.

‘From a budgetary purpose you probably want to leave it as long as you could, but then you might run the risk someone else could come in and take your player.’