Ice-cool Shorey unruffled over new Pompey role

Nicky Shorey hugs Craig Westcarr. Picture: Joe Pepler
Nicky Shorey hugs Craig Westcarr. Picture: Joe Pepler

It’s AN adaptation of his role he has accepted with the usual minimum of fuss and absence of histrionics.

As ever, Nicky Shorey has remained unruffled.

Andy Awford has asked the former England man to operate as a left wing-back during the past two-and-a-half matches.

On top of three games in a week, it has been a testing schedule for the 33-year-old.

Not that Shorey has allowed his remarkable consistency to dip, creating Craig Westcarr’s matchwinner against Oxford on Saturday.

He is set to be rested against Stoke tomorrow night, with Dan Butler the natural replacement.

And the Blues boss has been delighted with the continued contribution of the veteran defender, regardless of the system.

Awford said: ‘Nicky is a different class, he knows the game, I don’t need to coach him.

‘Everybody in the dressing room looks to him for that bit of quality and that bit of experience and he has both in abundance, he is a great player to have in the dressing room.

‘When he speaks, you listen. He doesn’t say a lot – he’s quite quiet – but when he does the lads definitely listen.

‘Admittedly he needs the odd bit of encouragement to get him up and down that pitch, but gets on with it.

‘He would rather play left-back if you asked him because he doesn’t have to run up and down so much – I would be the same, that is how experienced pros are.

‘When I asked him to do it he doesn’t shirk it, he knows when to go and when to stay and plays that game fantastic.

‘He has just done three games on the spin. There was wing-back in the second half against Cambridge when we were down to 10-men, 90 minutes against Northampton, then he did 90 minutes against Oxford.

‘He will need a break soon and I have got to make that decision. I gave him a breather against Peterborough.

‘Do I play him against Stoke or do I give Butler a game?

‘But Nick knows the game inside out and is a calm, assured player.’

Pompey had struggled to get Shorey and right wing-back Ricky Holmes out of their half during the opening 45 minutes against Oxford.

Yet with the Blues retaining the ball better after the break it allowed both positions to attack more, with Jed Wallace replacing Holmes.

In turn, Shorey became more of a threat on the left flank, even drilling in a shot with his right foot which was blocked by a U’s defender.

Moments later he provided the cross to set up the winner and take Pompey up to second spot in League Two.

Awford added: ‘I thought Nicky’s right-foot shot was going in at one point. That would have been something!

‘But it was a great ball for the goal, put into a great area.

‘We ask players to hit areas and then ask forwards to get on the end of it, and it was a fantastic ball.

‘Craig has gambled across the near post and the lads were joking that it was an own goal.

‘I don’t think Westie is going to let that one go too quickly, though.

‘But he’s in there, that’s the main thing, he is in the right area to score and it was a great ball in.’