Keeper spot is still up for grabs

John Sullivan. Picture: Joe Pepler
John Sullivan. Picture: Joe Pepler

John Sullivan admits he still has no idea if he will be selected for Pompey’s League Two opener.

The 25-year-old keeper got the nod ahead of rival Phil Smith for yesterday’s 2-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano at Fratton Park.

But Sullivan is refusing to read anything into that decision and has not been told by boss Guy Whittingham whether he has won the race to start the season as his first-choice keeper.

Sullivan said: ‘I know absolutely nothing.

‘I just went out there just trying to stake a claim.

‘I feel like I have had a good pre-season and, of course, I want to play.

‘But it’s up to the manager to make a decision.

‘It’s not just about me and Phil – he has to make some tough decisions all over the team.

‘We will probably get more of an inkling on Thursday or Friday but then whoever gets picked, it is up to them to stay in the team.

‘Hopefully, the gaffer chooses me but if he doesn’t, I will get my head down – I won’t kick up a fuss.

‘I will just work harder to get my chance.’

It’s a tough selection call for Whittingham, who named a side that looks very close to the team that will start against Oxford on Saturday.

And the fact that Smith played no part in the game could be another clue that Sullivan will be in goal for the Oxford clash.

But it seems to be the main selection issue for the Blues boss with pre-season almost complete and Sullivan knows Smith is just as keen to start next week.

Sullivan said: ‘As a keeper, if you are not picked, generally it means you are out of the side for at least a few games.

‘I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m desperate to play but Phil is exactly the same.

‘He’s a great guy, he’s a good pal and he’s a good keeper.

‘He doesn’t want to sit on the bench and not play.

‘I’m 25 so I’m still quite young for a goalkeeper and you never stop learning but I’m trying to be positive.

‘Hopefully, I will be walking out to a full Fratton Park at 3pm on Saturday but we all want to be in that situation.’

A Pompey XI will take on Gosport Borough tomorrow evening but it will be a very different test from the La Liga side, who ran out worthy winners.

Sullivan was beaten twice in the first half but was generally happy with his display.

He said: ‘That first one was a horrible, horrible shot.

‘I’m the first to admit when I feel I’ve made a mistake but with that one, it moved all over the place and there were a few bodies in the way.

‘In an ideal world, I would have liked to have pushed it wider but I just couldn’t.

‘There was too much pace and movement on the ball.

‘The second one was a great strike so there was not much I could do about that.

‘But I made a few saves and it was nice to show people what I can do.’