Enda Stevens set for 23-year Pompey first

Enda Stevens is poised to become a league ever-present starter on Saturday '“ the first in 23 years for an outfield player.

Thursday, 5th May 2016, 8:30 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:43 pm
Enda Stevens. Picture: Joe Pepler

The left-back heads into the season finale with Northampton Town having played all 45 League Two fixtures to date.

Should he retain his place in Paul Cook’s side, he will be the Blues’ sole presence in all league encounters.

In terms of a 46-game season for non-goalkeepers, it also represents a first instance since the 1992-93 campaign. On that occasion, Jim Smith’s side finished third in Division One, missing out on automatic promotion to instead reach the play-offs.

Of that side, Alan Knight, Alan McLoughlin and Guy Whittingham were league ever-present starters.

In addition, Andy Awford missed two matches, while Ray Daniel (40) and Kit Symons (41) were fixtures.

Knight, McLoughlin and Whittingham also appeared in both play-off games against Leicester City.

For the outfield pair, the achievement has never been matched until now, providing Stevens lines up against the Cobblers.

Paul Hall made 46 appearances in 1995-96, although two of those came from the bench.

Meanwhile, Sylvain Distin started every Premier League game in 2008-09.

Yet with the season consisting of 38 matches, it cannot be compared to the accomplishment of a 46-game campaign.

Obviously goalkeepers have recorded such a feat many times over recent years.

During the Division One title-winning season of 2002-03, Shaka Hislop started in all 46 matches.

Incidentally, he was withdrawn at half-time in the final day 5-0 win at Bradford to allow a substitute appearance for Yoshi Kawaguchi.

David James was crowned The News/Sports Mail player of the season in 2006-07 as he established himself as an ever-present in Harry Redknapp’s Premier League side.

Jamie Ashdown appeared in all Pompey’s 50 matches under Steve Cotterill in 2010-11.

That includes all 46 games in the Championship, with Liam O’Brien and Darryl Flahavan the substitute keepers left empty-handed over the campaign.

Similarly, last season Paul Jones featured for 52 matches, including all 46 League Two fixtures.

The keeper has endured a frustrating campaign this time round, though, with injury hampering his availability.

Yet in terms of outfield players, Stevens is set to join a small band of modern-day Pompey footballers.

He has represented the Blues 51 times in all competitions since a summer arrival from Aston Villa.

Suspension kept him out of the Capital One Cup visit of Reading, while he was rested for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat at Exeter City with Cook preferring to blood youngsters.