Keeper relishing Pompey fight

Michael Poke. Picture: Sarah Standing (141940-3136)
Michael Poke. Picture: Sarah Standing (141940-3136)

Michael Poke is relishing the fight to emerge as Pompey’s number one.

The Blues have two new goalkeepers on their books for the season ahead with Paul Jones also arriving this summer.

Andy Awford is keen to let both recruits scrap it out for a first-team spot ahead of the August 9 kick off.

The situation echoes the rivalry between John Sullivan and Phil Smith at the start of last season under Guy Whittingham.

Crucially, however, Poke and Jones have been regulars at their previous clubs – when free from injury – before their Fratton Park moves.

And 28-year-old Poke has no intention of settling for a constant presence on the bench during the League Two campaign.

‘The gaffer explained to me we will be competing,’ he said.

‘It is part and parcel of the position and I’m fine with that.

‘There is only one spot and usually two, maybe three, people – so that’s the way it is, you just have to be up for fighting for it.

‘He wants two keepers fighting for the spot to keep each other on their toes.

‘I have done it before and it never stopped me wanting to come here.

‘As a goalkeeper, it’s completely different game to an outfield player.

‘You have to be more patient and the opportunities are more restricted as there is only one number one spot.

‘You have to bide your time a little bit and when it happens you have to take it.

‘I started out at Southampton when Antti Niemi was there and then competed with Kelvin Davis.

‘At Brighton it was Casper Ankergren and Peter Brezovan, at Torquay it was Scott Bevan one time and now he is helping out with coaching here.

‘I was a regular at Torquay and definitely improved, especially my position as goalkeeper when games are important.

‘As everyone knows, as a keeper gets older and more experienced they get better.

‘Last season I had an injury but still played games, while the campaign before that I made 46 appearances.

‘Obviously I’m looking to get games here at Portsmouth.’

Poke emerged through the St Mary’s ranks to make four first-team appearances.

During that time he also had loan spells at Oldham, Northampton, Woking and Torquay before joining Brighton permanently in the summer of 2010.

And he understands how his Southampton link may be regarded with his new club.

He added: ‘I played a handful of games for Southampton and then got injured. The season after I went out on loan.

‘Of course I am aware of the rivalry, even if the clubs were always in different leagues during that time.

‘I’m actually from Staines and as a kid growing up I supported Chelsea and Fulham but when you get into football you support who you play for.’