Rejection the inspiration for new hitman

New Pompey striker Tom Craddock
New Pompey striker Tom Craddock

Tom Craddock vowed to use being cast into the football wilderness as inspiration to fire Pompey to League Two success.

The striker told of his nightmare at Oxford United last season as he found himself on the fringes at the Kassam Stadium.

That’s despite firing in 11 goals for the Us before the turn of the year, in an impressive first half to his campaign.

Craddock put injury problems behind him to deliver that return on the way to 26 goals in 64 league starts for his old side.

That was off the back of 31 strikes in 63 appearances for his previous side Luton, as the 26-year-old proved himself to be a lower league marksman of real threat.

But his resolve was tested after finding himself out of favour at Oxford, until Guy Whittingham made his move.

Now Craddock is determined to repay the faith shown in him by his new boss.

He said: ‘My agent spoke to the manager and he showed he really wanted me here.

‘Once I knew a club this size wanted me, and knew the manager was keen, I wasn’t really too fussed about speaking to anyone else.

‘My first season at Oxford I scored loads but my second season I think I only played about seven or eight games.

‘I was injured for the rest of the season. I had a bit of tendonitis in my hamstring and it was a bit of a nightmare.

‘But I got rid of that last season and I had 11 goals by Boxing Day. I hadn’t started the season so I was pretty prolific but, for one reason or another, I found myself out of the team.

‘That was when I was hopefully going to come on loan here, but that fell through.

‘After that it was seeing my time out there because I wasn’t playing and they wouldn’t allow me to come out on loan.

‘It was a bit frustrating but you live and learn.

‘It was an experience and I had to take positives from it. Hopefully I can bring those experiences here.

‘When I first went to Luton I scored goals and I scored goals at Oxford, so hopefully I can bring that here and help us do well.’

Craddock has more than one eye on facing his old side in Pompey’s League Two curtain-raiser against Oxford on August 3.

He’s gunning for a starting XI place in that game – and is looking forward to the challenge of going up against the other Blues strikers for a berth in the side.

‘If you have competition it pushes you on, so it can only be good for the club,’ said Craddock.

‘If I’m playing well, invariably, I’ll be scoring – and if I’m doing that, the club should be up there.

‘I just can’t wait to get the shirt on and start playing games.

‘Obviously, I’ll be looking forward to that first game.

‘I was motivated to do well, but being my old club obviously motivates you a little bit more.’