Awford patience over Atangana progress

Nigel Atangana, left, in Pompey pre-season with fellow new recruit James Dunne Picture: Sarah Standing
Nigel Atangana, left, in Pompey pre-season with fellow new recruit James Dunne Picture: Sarah Standing

Andy Awford is delighted at Nigel Atangana’s negotiation with the tough step up into full-time football.

But the Blues boss has warned patience is required over the ex-Hawks midfielder’s on-going adjustment.

The 24-year-old is nearing the end of his first two weeks training with Pompey following his switch from non-league football.

Atangana was recruited for a five-figure fee last month and will be pitched in for his Blues bow against his former club in a pre-season friendly at Westleigh Park on Saturday (3pm).

The Frenchman made a tremendous impact with Lee Bradbury’s Conference South side, before climbing two divisions to switch into the Football League.

And Awford has stressed his summer recruit will need to be allowed time to settle.

‘Nigel has been fine, there have been no dramas, he has come in and trained really well and just got on with it,’ said Awford.

‘I am sure he is looking forward to going back to Havant on Saturday and playing against his mates.

‘It is always a bit difficult when you play against your old team, especially in a pre-season friendly, but he will have a blue shirt on now and I will look forward to seeing him in it.

‘The step up for him hasn’t caused him any problems so far, but I would look at it the same as when a new apprentice comes in straight out of school.

‘You have that first few weeks of euphoria, you are bubbling away – then it might kick in a little bit later, normally around the end of September to early October.

‘We do see a decline in the apprentices, the new intake who come in. You see it in their body language, fitness levels and psychologically.

‘That might come with Nigel – but then again it might not because he is obviously older.

‘At the moment, though, I would think he is loving it, getting on with it and has trained no problem whatsoever.’

Saturday’s trip to the Hawks kicks off Pompey’s pre-season friendly programme.

The annual affair can usually be relied on to attract crowds exceeding 2,500, helping bolster the non-league side’s finances.

Atangana made 43 appearances and scored five goals last season for Lee Bradbury’s men, earning himself several player-of-the-season trophies.

And Awford has been impressed with his fitness since arriving at Fratton Park.

He added: ‘Nigel’s an athletic player and appears to be very fit.

‘However, we will know more next week when we do our fitness testing on Monday and Tuesday at the university.

‘I wanted the players to come in and get to a level – and then test them.

‘We will get a fair idea of where people are and where they need to be after we get the data back, but Nigel has settled in absolutely fine, no problems.’