Awford: He’s alright, Jack – but not on 3G

Jack Whatmough returned to the Pompey starting XI for the trip to Wycombe Picture: Joe Pepler
Jack Whatmough returned to the Pompey starting XI for the trip to Wycombe Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford is adamant Jack Whatmough’s on-going tendon problems are not hampering his first-team selection.

The 18-year-old was recalled to Pompey’s side for Saturday’s encouraging goalless draw at Wycombe.

Featuring as part of a back three, alongside Paul Robinson and Ben Chorley, it was the defender’s first appearance in five Blues matches.

Manager Awford has revealed Whatmough is suffering from tendinopathy, involving a problem with his tendon.

The condition causes his knee to inflame following training on a 3G playing surface.

It is a concern the Pompey boss and his staff have learnt to manage and, as a result, Whatmough does not train on artificial surfaces.

Regardless, he has continued to play for the reserves and last weekend was back in the first team.

And Awford insists the Gosport youngster’s recent four-match absence has been down to managerial preference – not injury concerns.

‘Jack has been fit for selection for the last two or three weeks,’ said Awford.

‘He has a tendinopathy, which is something we manage, but he can’t train on 3G surfaces.

‘That is an issue for him. We have a couple of other players who also can’t train on artificial surfaces, but it won’t stop me playing him.

‘It’s not his fault he cannot train on 3G and the others can. That is just life, so it’s not fair on him that it stops him being considered for first-team selection – and he hasn’t been.

‘That has been down to me and my preference for matches.

‘When players are out of the side I don’t normally play them every week in the reserves because they don’t need to.

‘With Jack, the reason why we have stuck him in there regularly is because he is guaranteed to play on grass.

‘The reserves went to Plymouth last month, and as we knew the game was on their first-team pitch Jack was selected.

‘The rest of the players stayed here and trained on 3G that same day. If Jack hadn’t gone to Home Park he actually wouldn’t have trained, he would have been in the pool or the gym.

‘So the reason he has played all the reserve games to date is because he is guaranteed grass.’

Whatmough has started in each of Pompey’s past four reserve fixtures, most recently against Wimbledon last week.

In the meantime, before the weekend, he hadn’t featured for the first team since the Boxing Day defeat to The Dons.

In addition, he failed to make the previous two Blues match-day squads against Burton and Southend.

But Awford pinpoints Luton as the only match the youngster has had to be pulled out of.

‘Jack didn’t play in the Luton game as he couldn’t play two matches in three days, he wasn’t right, he wouldn’t have got through that,’ added the manager.

‘He wouldn’t have been able to start the game so was on the bench.

‘I don’t know how you can resolve the problem with his tendon, you’d better ask the physio.

‘We manage it, but in terms of getting rid of it fully, I cannot really comment.’