Awford: No guarantees for Pompey new-boy

New Pompey goalkeeper Paul Jones
New Pompey goalkeeper Paul Jones

Andy Awford has warned there are no guarantees Paul Jones will be the Blues’ regular keeper next season.

The 27-year-old this week arrived at Fratton Park following his Crawley exit after 104 appearances in two seasons.

The undisputed number one for the League One side now managed by John Gregory, Jones is one of two new goalkeeping recruits Pompey’s boss wants in place.

Space has been created by the release of Phil Smith, Trevor Carson returning to Bury and John Sullivan on his way out, while there are no alternatives ready to emerge from the Academy.

For Awford, the hunt is now on for a second keeper to bolster his squad.

But he has dismissed the notion the next arrival will be asked to serve as Jones’ understudy.

Instead the Blues’ manager is eager for them to fight it out among themselves for the prized first-team squad.

He said: ‘You need goalkeepers who are both able to play in League Two next season. We need two who are capable.

‘In a squad you have two who can play at right-back for example, so why shouldn’t the same situation apply to goalkeepers?

‘I have never quite got why you would have just the one goalkeeper capable of playing in your first team. I don’t understand that way of thinking.

‘It is not just 11 players who turn up to train – and I would like competition in that position.

‘We have Paul but now I want to get another keeper to come in and be able to play if and when required

‘If the other keeper is aged 37 or 17, it makes no difference to me as long as he is capable.

‘There is no number one at the moment, when we get the second keeper in we will let them get on with it and fight it out. That’s normal.

‘We will judge it from there who will start the season.’

Inevitably Jones’ arrival casts serious doubt over potential Pompey returns for either Carson or Jamie Ashdown.

Carson has spent the past week in the Northern Ireland squad which has faced Uruguay and Chile in friendlies.

However, he is still awaiting his first senior international cap – with former Manchester United stopper Roy Carroll preferred for both matches.

Awford has admitted he has not spoken to the 26-year-old ex-Pompey loanee, who is out of contract at the end of this month with Bury.

Ashdown has also been mentioned and is a free agent following his release from Leeds after two years with the Championship club.

Now aged 33, he made 123 appearances during his previous Blues spell, including establishing himself as an ever-present in 2010-11.

He has already voiced his interest in considering a Fratton comeback.

But as Awford juggles his playing budget, it now remains highly unlikely either will join Jones on the south coast.

He added: ‘I have not spoken to Trevor recently.

‘We know where he is and he knows where I am – and we all know what he can do on the football pitch.

‘There’s no rush, he is contracted with Bury until June 30.’