Pompey knocks force Awford rethink

Ricky Holmes is an injury doubt
Ricky Holmes is an injury doubt

Plans to give the majority of the Pompey players a full outing against Bournemouth have been shelved.

Andy Awford’s squad has been affected by a number of knocks and niggles ahead of the August 9 Football League kick-off.

As a result, the Blues boss will once again rotate all available players for tonight’s visit of Eddie Howe’s side (7.45pm).

Ricky Holmes (thigh) and Ryan Taylor (groin) didn’t train yesterday and will be assessed this afternoon.

Definitely out are Danny East (groin), Bradley Tarbuck (ankle ligaments), Ben Close (hamstring), Wes Fogden (knee) and Tom Craddock (knee).

However, Michael Poke is back having recovered from an ankle problem.

He replaces Alex Bass in the squad, with the 16-year-old now on the Academy tour to Holland.

And Awford is looking to protect his squad.

He said: ‘It’s great Michael (Poke) is back after rolling his ankle and he has worked really hard to return.

‘When it happened I had expected him back for the Charlton match, but he has returned some way before that so all credit to the lad.

‘He will definitely get minutes, as will the majority of the squad as we are still going to chop and change for this one.

‘There will be no 90-minute appearances. With all the niggles we have, the staff have decided it is best to operate with 45 and 60-minute appearances.

‘Injury prevention is at the top of the list because of the bumps and bruises in the squad at the moment so we will be erring on the side of caution.

‘Ricky and Ryan (Taylor) will be assessed at lunch time, Danny is still struggling with his groin and not trained yet, while Ben (Close) has a tight hamstring.

‘So tonight will be about minutes in legs and injury avoidance.’

On a brighter note for the Blues, the injury to Tarbuck is not as bad as initially feared.

Awford added: ‘The scan has shown there is ligament damage in his ankle but fortunately there is no surgery required.

‘We had feared an operation was needed at one point.’