Awfs: Westcarr needs service to shine

Craig Westcarr. Picture: Joe Pepler
Craig Westcarr. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss Andy Awford believes Craig Westcarr’s impact has been hampered by his team’s lack of creativity.

The striker has six goals to his name this season but has failed to win over the Fratton faithful.

Yet Awford retains faith in his Walsall recruit, starting him in 22 matches to date.

Westcarr was recalled to the side against Burton Albion last weekend – to partner new recruit Matt Tubbs in attack.

The underlying problem, however, remains the Blues’ ongoing lack of creativity and generally poor service to their front men.

It is a problem Awford has identified – and admits has affected Westcarr’s end product.

He said: ‘Craig is a bit like us – he has been a little bit inconsistent.

‘He has come from up north and there is a transitional period of settling in but he is a very, very good player and can finish.

‘But I totally agree that the strikers haven’t had great service this season.

‘At York and Hartlepool we created a string of chances and didn’t take them but there haven’t been hatfuls of chances, let’s put it that way.

‘Craig has been a victim of circumstances and the chances haven’t been there.

‘You could say that for all of the strikers and I don’t know a striker that doesn’t rely on service.

‘It’s a team game. We’ve got to make sure we, as a team, create more chances, then hopefully the fire-power we’ve got can convert them.

‘Craig is a good lad to work with and I really enjoy working with him.

‘Once he gets going again, I am confident he will score goals for us.’

Westcarr arrived at Fratton Park last summer having netted 16 times for the Saddlers in their League One campaign.

He scored four times during six pre-season fixtures to whet the appetite of Blues fans.

Only Jed Wallace has more goals for the Blues during the current season, while Westcarr has shown genuine class with his finishing on occasions.

Now Paul McCallum has arrived at Fratton Park to add extra competition in a striking pool which also features Ryan Taylor.

Awford added: ‘Against Burton, I wanted to play with the two wide players to give us that width.

‘And I felt Matt and Craig were the two strikers to go with for that game.

‘Craig’s substitute impact at Newport didn’t convince me to start him.

‘He’s a good player who contributed on Saturday in a very good team performance.

‘He is a clever player who will drop in and find pockets of space, while Tubbsy wants to play on the last man and find space in the box.

‘They are a bit different but are both very good finishers when they get the ball in front of goal.

‘But we have got to get the ball to them in front of goal more.’