Dunne: Pompey have talent to replace me

Injured Pompey midfielder James Dunne Picture: Joe Pepler
Injured Pompey midfielder James Dunne Picture: Joe Pepler

James Dunne is convinced Pompey possess the midfield talent to replace him.

The 25-year-old is sidelined for the remainder of 2014 following an operation on his left knee.

The loss of the popular player has thrown the door open for other members of the squad to now stake a claim alongside Danny Hollands in the middle of the park.

Nigel Atangana and Nick Awford have both started recent games, while Ben Close is another option.

Flexible pair Jack Whatmough and Johnny Ertl are also considerations for roles in the engine room.

Boss Andy Awford has plenty of agonising to do over his selection at Aldershot in the FA Cup replay tomorrow night.

Regardless of the weekend defeat to Plymouth, Dunne believes the right men are already at the club to perform effectively in the centre of midfield.

‘There are three or four players there that can come in and do a job,’ said Dunne.

‘I don’t see any need to bring others in, we have players there already.

‘They are people who can do the job and they now have the chance to go and play to show everyone.

‘It’s up to them, this is an opportunity for them to take – and I’m sure they will.

‘Take Nigel (Atangana) for one. I have been really impressed with him.

‘He has taken to the Football League exceptionally well, doing well – whether it is in the starting line-up or as a sub.

‘I am surprised he was playing in non-league football for that long. In pre-season I was looking at him thinking he was a very good player.

‘When I first went to Exeter into men’s football, I struggled a bit. It usually takes six, seven or eight games before you get to that point.

‘Nigel did it from the start. The way he has taken to the league has been really good.’

Atangana was dropped to the Home Park bench having started against Aldershot the weekend before.

But he will be in the frame for the replay at the Recreation Ground as Awford seeks to bounce back from the weekend’s defeat.

Also pushing are Nick Awford, who made his full Football League debut against the Pilgrims, and Close.

And both promising teenagers have caught Dunne’s eye.

He added: ‘Nick is kind of like me – he loves a tackle and will give everything.

‘I’ve played with him a couple of times and remember at Yeovil (in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy) when he launched into a tackle to get us going for Jed Wallace to score the first goal.

‘He’s a good player who has done well whenever he has come on.

‘Ben is another great lad who has a really bright future ahead of him. He’s very good on the ball.

‘He always manages to keep hold of it – we call him The Modric! In five-a-side matches I like being on his team and I’m sure he’ll get his chance.’