Smith puts himself in frame for Pompey coaching role

Phil Smith, pictured in action for Swindon, believes he can draw on his experiences as a player and provide coaching for regular Blues keeper Simon Eastwood

Phil Smith, pictured in action for Swindon, believes he can draw on his experiences as a player and provide coaching for regular Blues keeper Simon Eastwood

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Phil Smith has emerged as a surprise candidate to become Pompey’s next goalkeeping coach.

The 33-year-old joined the Blues last month to serve as competition to Simon Eastwood for the number one spot.

Now, following the exit of John Keeley to Blackburn, the former Swindon stopper has indicated he would like to be considered as his replacement as coach,

Smith, who has made 242 career appearances, is currently in the process of taking his coaching qualifications.

The prospect of him stepping up is something Whittingham admits he is considering.

Joining Keeley in leaving for Ewood Park in the past week were head of recruitment Luke Dowling and strength and conditioning coach Chris Neville.

But it is the role of goalkeeping coach that caretaker boss Whittingham is giving most thought.

Whittingham said: ‘We are still out there looking at how to replace John at the moment.

‘Phil Smith has expressed interest and it is something he wants to do long term.

‘He has started taking his coaching qualifications and that is something at the back of our minds.

‘We will see where we go from there but we are not in any rush at this moment in time.

‘Phil’s settled into the club very well and Simon Eastwood is comfortable with that.

‘He’s a nice guy, good around the place and very professional in what he does.

‘I am not saying he will do it until the end of the season, we are well aware whoever we get needs to be a goalkeeping coach with the qualifications.

‘You also need a certain type of character to be a coach. We will monitor that with Phil.

‘Maybe it is a case of getting somebody else in to help him through – we’ll have a look at it.’

Smith has been an unused substitute in Pompey’s past six matches, with Eastwood given the nod.

As with the majority of players, he has also been penning monthly Blues deals, with his latest set to expire on February 8.

Having been released by Swindon at the end of last season, it was Whittingham who offered him a way back into professional football.

Yet, following last week’s announcement of 10-per-cent pay cuts across the board by administrators PKF, a number of coaching staff have now left.

Among them is Keeley, who had been at Fratton Park since 2007, initially working with the Academy. Another is Neville, a member of England’s backroom staff, although Whittingham is not seeking to replace him permanently at present.

Whittingham added: ‘Chris is a great guy and good at his job.

‘It’s sad to see him go – he has been great for the club.

‘We can certainly replace him and it’s an area we are thinking about.

‘But it is not one of those that has to be rushed into, considering the people already at the club.

‘He worked very closely with Steve Allen (physio) who knows all about that side of things.

‘In addition, we have always got Adrian Cooke from the Academy who can help out.

‘The players, though, have all got their own programmes set from early in the season so they can continue them.’