Awford unveils Pompey pre-season plans

Ryan Bird scored on his debut as Pompey kick-started their 2013 summer pre-season at the Hawks
Ryan Bird scored on his debut as Pompey kick-started their 2013 summer pre-season at the Hawks

Pompey players’ time off this summer has been cut short as Andy Awford implements his plans for next season.

The Blues’ pre-season will start on June 26 – around a week earlier than the traditional July start.

Last year, Guy Whittingham’s men resumed training on July 1. But Awford has opted to bring forward that date.

Pompey’s manager believes it is crucial for squad preparations to take place earlier as he builds up towards the campaign’s kick off on August 9.

The pre-season fixtures are also currently being finalised, with trips to the Hawks and Bognor in the offing.

Among the other matches pencilled in is a home clash with Bournemouth and a trip to Burnham – as part of the deal which took Ryan Bird to Fratton Park last year.

Awford said: ‘The players need a certain amount of time to prepare right for August 9, so we will come back a bit earlier. That is not just my opinion, but also in the staff’s opinion.

‘You have got to have your base levels, of course you have. And anyone you speak to in the game always says “You can tell he’s not had a pre-season” or “He hasn’t done so well this year because he missed pre-season”.

‘Pre-season is vital. It is a big area for us to get right so we have got to make sure we do.

‘It sets the tone. I am not talking about results of football matches. I’ve had pre-seasons where we have won every game and you don’t win for five league matches.

‘Then I have had it the other way where you have lost every game and go and win the first three in the league.

‘I am talking about preparation, getting it right so come later on in the season you can call upon that pre-season you’ve had to enable you to maintain that season.’

Last summer six Pompey fixtures took place, including trips to Bournemouth, the Hawks and Bognor.

All three remain on the calendar during the forthcoming pre-season, with other matches also to be confirmed.

In addition, last term there was a Pompey XI match at Gosport, while a triallist game took place at Aldershot.

And Awford is pleased how preparations are currently progressing.

He added: ‘We are probably 95 per cent there with it. A lot of it was planned before I got into this chair.

‘We won’t go abroad, it will be within the UK and will try to go away for a few days, I think that is important.

‘We will play our friends and local clubs. They are all ready to go, and a lot of money is being spent on our (Fratton Park) pitch to carry out extensive work in the summer, so we can’t get on there until later than normal.

‘The season starts on August 9, so we have to be ready and I have added to the plans already there.

‘The Hawks and Bognor are not our only friends. Don’t get me wrong, there is also Gosport, Portchester and Moneyfields. They are fantastic non-league clubs and helped us in our hour of need and it is important we remember.

‘We can’t play everyone, that is the thing, so we will do what we can to help, of course we will.

‘It is important to maintain those ties, definitely.’