Awford: Run yourselves into ground for me

Pompey Boss Andy Awford Picture: Barry Zee
Pompey Boss Andy Awford Picture: Barry Zee

ANDY AWFORD admitted he will have to guard against burning his players out in a bid for League Two survival.

But the Pompey boss has demanded his men continue to show their match-day intensity as they fight for their place in the Football League.

Two wins out of two has seen optimism grow at Fratton Park following Awford’s arrival a caretaker manager.

A hallmark of those games has been the work-rate shown by the Blues in the 4-2-3-1 formation the boss has employed.

That has been epitomised by the likes of Wes Fogden, with the midfielder delivering a tireless display against Hartlepool – despite picking up a string of injuries throughout the game.

Awford knows he will have to keep a close eye on the impact of such high-tempo play on his squad.

He is aware of that, but promised he will not accept any let-up in the players eating up the miles in the season’s finale.

Awford said: ‘The players are getting the message. They get it.

‘Some of the players will need a rest because of the intensity I demand they play at.

‘We have to have that level and effort for the remaining five games. We can’t drop off now.

‘We need to keep it up. The pressure is not off yet.

‘There are five games to go and there are 15 points to play for.

‘Anybody can still stay up.

‘Until we are over the line mathematically there will be no let-up.

‘When we’ve got the points in the bag we’ll relax then.’

Awford has also shaken up Pompey’s match-day preparations from the approach employed by his predecessor Richie Barker.

Last weekend saw the Blues gather together on Saturday morning at a hotel and travel to the Hartlepool game at Fratton Park as a squad.

Awford has also been keen to preach the mantra of his players enjoying the duty of representing Pompey.

That has seen him go as far as displaying posters in the dressing underlining his message.

The 41-year-old has also been keen to keep the pressure off his men and allow them to play with freedom.

That will remain the case as they go to Dagenham & Redbridge this weekend.

’There are bits and bobs we’ve done in the dressing room and we’ve changed the match-day routine a bit,’ said Awford.

‘We just wanted to freshen it up a bit. They responded to it well.

‘I didn’t want talk of back-to-back wins last week. I kept it out of dressing room.

‘We’ve not wanted to put pressure on the players.

‘All I wanted them to do was win. It’s important from a psychological point of view because it becomes a pressurised game.

‘It’s pressurised enough as it is.’