Midfielder encouraged to stay put at Pompey

23/3/2013 (SPORT)''Action from the match between Portsmouth FC v Coventry City at Fratton Park on Saturday afternoon.''Pictured is: Jed Wallace during the match.''Picture: Sarah Standing (13824-5744)
23/3/2013 (SPORT)''Action from the match between Portsmouth FC v Coventry City at Fratton Park on Saturday afternoon.''Pictured is: Jed Wallace during the match.''Picture: Sarah Standing (13824-5744)

Andy Awford has told Jed Wallace: Stick with Pompey.

The Blues Academy boss has seen the 19-year-old emerge as one of the club’s biggest assets after breaking into the first team last term and scoring six goals in 23 appearances.

But clubs are circling and it remains unclear whether the former Farnborough youngster will start next season at Fratton Park, even though he has a year left on his contract.

Awford admits he would understand if Wallace – who spent time on loan at Whitehawk last season – was sold or wanted to move on to take his chance at a higher level.

But the former Pompey skipper believes it would do the young midfielder more good to sign a long-term deal with the club and earn a place as a first-team regular in Guy Whittingham’s revamped side, rather than sit on the bench at a Championship club.

Awford said: ‘I think everyone understands that if the right offer comes, he will go.

‘But if the right offer comes in for Wayne Rooney this summer, he will go too. Every player has his price.

‘I would like Jed to stay, sign a new contract and enjoy his football.

‘I think he really enjoyed it last season when he got into the side.

‘He is the type of character who needs to play first-team football.

‘I wouldn’t think it would benefit him to go and be in a development squad or sit on the bench somewhere else.

‘So whether that is at Whitehawk, Portsmouth or Manchester United, he needs to play.’

While a more lucrative contract elsewhere would undoubtedly turn the teenager’s head, Awford believes Wallace would need to assess his hopes of challenging for a first-team position at a new club.

But he has no fears over being badly advised by his representative and making the wrong decision based purely on money.

Awford said: ‘If an offer came in, Jed would need to weigh all that up.

‘I know his agent and he is okay but Jed is very much his own man in that respect.

‘He will do what he wants to do.

‘He’s got another year left on his contract but as he’s under 24, the club would still get money if he left.

‘But if the right club came along with the right offer, then I wouldn’t blame him or the club for moving on.’

While some believe the England under-19 international will move into a more central role next term if he stays at Pompey, Awford expects Whittingham to look at his options during pre-season.

But the Academy boss believes Wallace also offers plenty to the team from a wide starting position.

He said: ‘He has played in the middle but he was so effective out on the right and drifting in last season.

‘He’s not a winger but pops up inside and gives you width when you need it.

‘The way he pops up in those little pockets makes it difficult for people to pick him up.

‘He was quite effective at arriving in the box and getting his goals.

‘He’s got a great knack of that and you can’t really coach the timing of those runs.

‘But I’m sure Guy will have a look at that during pre-season.’