Midfield decision for Awford

Nigel Atangana Picture: Joe Pepler
Nigel Atangana Picture: Joe Pepler

Nigel Atangana looks set to get the starting nod as James Dunne’s League Two ever-present record comes to an end tomorrow.

The former Hawks midfielder turned the game for Pompey and helped spare their blushes as a substitute as they secured a 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town.

Dunne has yet to miss a league game this term but sits out the trip to Gigg Lane with a one-match ban, after collecting five yellow cards this season.

And Atangana looks the most obvious choice for Blues boss Andy Awford, after his impressive impact last time out.

Awford said: ‘Nigel grabbed that game by the scruff of the neck and played very well when he came on.

‘He came on and was absolutely great for us.

‘It wasn’t just the goal but there were other parts to his game. He got the ball over by the north stand at one point and went off on a run.

‘It lifted the team and it lifted the fans.

‘He looks back to his fluent best.

‘He is very much in my thoughts for this game.’

Awford played down the significance of Dunne’s suspension, with five bookings at an early stage of the season for the combative midfielder.

‘When I signed James Dunne, I knew what I was getting and I knew there would be the odd suspension along the way,’ said Awford.

‘He is not a malicious player.

‘He is a hard-tackling player and he wears his heart on his sleeve.

‘He misses out but he will get some fitness work to do over the weekend to make sure he is okay for Tuesday against Stevenage. Let’s hope he doesn’t put his heart-rate monitor on the dog!’

Ben Chorley is expected to be among the substitutes tomorrow, after recovering from a calf problem.

But Jack Whatmough (hamstring) and Adam Webster (knee) are both ruled out.

Awford said: ‘We are as we were last week, really.

‘The one difference is Ben has trained with the group all week and he is back available for selection, which is good news for everybody. He is contention.

‘Jack Whatmough has still not trained with the group and Adam Webster has had an operation.’

Awford explained Webster is expected to be out for a matter of weeks, rather than a more lengthy absence.

He added: ‘It’s pleasing for Adam there was no ligament damage. It will be weeks rather than months, which is good news.

‘It was cartilage damage. It’s still not great news but it’s better than it could have been.’