Awford puts contract talks on backburner

Dan Butler. Picture: Joe Pepler
Dan Butler. Picture: Joe Pepler

Dan Butler and Adam Webster have been offered fresh deals to keep them at Fratton Park.

Yet Andy Awford has insisted the remaining 14 players out of contract this summer will have to wait to negotiate.

The Pompey boss has focused his attention on hauling his team up the League Two table as their campaign continues to disappoint.

An encouraging display against Burton at the weekend lifted them up two places, although the points gap to the relegation zone was reduced to just three.

In the meantime, the prized opportunity for a massive squad overhaul is looming with more than half the squad out of contract.

David Connolly may have already agreed his release, yet 16 other players could become free agents this summer.

There is no doubting the importance Awford sees in retaining Butler and Webster, who have been holding talks for several months.

Others will have to wait, however, as the Blues manager prioritises league progress.

That leaves Nicky Shorey, Wes Fogden, Ryan Taylor, Ben Chorley, Patrick Agyemang, Tom Craddock, Joe Devera, Danny East, Ricky Holmes, Ben Close, Bradley Tarbuck, Nick Awford, Jack Maloney and loanee Paul McCallum with uncertain Pompey futures.

Awford said: ‘We are in talks with Dan and Adam but I have not spoken to any of the others yet.

‘All other contract talks are on the back burner – all I want at the moment is to get results with the team and start climbing the table.

‘There are a number out of contract and we will have those conversations when we need to. That will come when it comes.

‘We have just got to focus on football and trying to get results at the moment, the other stuff will take care of itself

‘I am certainly not making decisions on people and their futures mid-season, that is not going to happen.

‘The summer is a long way off, so I am not thinking about that at the moment.

‘Instead, I am thinking about getting results and trying to build on some good performances recently.

‘We’re looking to Southend now and seeking to get three points for the club.’

Of the 16 out of contract, McCallum is the only loanee and is scheduled to remain at Fratton Park until the end of the campaign.

However, his contract with West Ham is due to expire this summer, a development which may interest the Blues.

The remaining 15 are tied to the club on permanent deals.

Such is the broad scope for a squad revamp, of those presently on Pompey’s books only the minority are contracted beyond the end of this season.

Those whose deals end in the summer of 2016 are Danny Hollands, Andy Barcham, Johnny Ertl, Jack Whatmough, Michael Poke, James Dunne, Craig Westcarr, Nigel Atangana, Conor Chaplin and Paul Robinson.

Although several have 12-month options.

In addition, Matt Tubbs, Jed Wallace and Paul Jones are contracted until the summer of 2017.