Awfs: Nick deserved Pompey chance

Pompey midfielder Nick Awford    Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey midfielder Nick Awford Picture: Joe Pepler

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Pompey boss Andy Awford believes son Nick has deserved his full Pompey debut.

Now the 19-year-old must fight alongside the many other Academy products for regular first-team action.

The central midfielder was given his first Blues start in the Capital One Cup defeat at Stoke in the week.

His only previous appearance came as a late substitute in the final Fratton Park match of the 2012-13 campaign.

Since then he’s had loan spells at Gosport and Bognor during an injury-hampered season last term.

Yet Awford junior has re-emerged to become a fixture in the first-team squad this season, without getting match action.

That finally arrived as one of eight changes for the trip to the Britannia Stadium on Wednesday night.

He gave a battling and whole-hearted display in the centre of midfield, drawing praise from team-mate Ricky Holmes.

And Pompey’s boss is adamant the youngster’s call-up was fully warranted.

Andy Awford said: ‘Nick has come on in leaps and bounds this season.

‘There was an opportunity against Cambridge maybe to get him on to shore things up, which we didn’t do.

‘On Saturday he could have come on instead of Jack Whatmough. We went with the height of Jack for set pieces and in the middle of the park to see the game out.

‘I was a bit gutted for him in the end against Stoke, he had cramp and we had used all three substitutions.

‘He couldn’t bend his left leg so it was a case of leaving him on the right wing just as a body and somebody to stand out there.

‘He worked tirelessly, though, and will learn from it, it will do him the world of good in terms of progressing forward.

‘Speak to the players and coaching staff and they are all talking about the young players we’ve got at the club, it’s not just Nick, there are other good footballers as well.

‘Ben Close made the bench at Stoke, Dan Butler came in and did fine, not letting anybody down. I think we’ve got some good, young footballers at the football club and they need to opportunity to play.

‘Stoke was a good opportunity to allow them to do that.’

Danny Hollands, Nigel Atangana and James Dunne will all be challenging Awford and Johnny Ertl for those central midfield spots against Newport County tomorrow.

And for those youngsters who featured in midweek, the learning curve has been priceless.

Andy Awford added: ‘It’s difficult making a debut against a Premier League side and Nick, Dan Butler, Jack Whatmough, Jed Wallace, Miles Storey and Adam Webster are all young lads.

‘For all the senior lads as well, it was a massive learning experience for everybody and as long as we learn and as long as we don’t get that losing feeling too often then we can take positives from it.’