Pompey miss out on loan striker

Andy Awford Picture: Joe Pepler
Andy Awford Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford admits he has been handed a recruitment reality check after missing out on a loan signing this week.

Although he declined to identify his target, the Pompey boss was keen to secure a deal for an experienced striker from the Championship, only to be informed the player did not want to play in the basement division.

While the pull of Pompey’s stature is enough to tempt some to drop down the leagues – as Millwall loanee Paul Robinson has done – Awford believes a smaller club in League One is often seen as a more attractive option.

And after learning that for himself, the Blues boss is keen to pass on the message.

Awford said: ‘There was a striker that I wanted to bring in from a Championship club this week but it hasn’t worked out.

‘I’m not saying it’s dead but I am 95-per-cent sure he won’t come.

‘Basically, he doesn’t want to drop into League Two so that’s that.

‘I’m not going to name him because he hasn’t gone anywhere yet.

‘But it’s a lot harder than you would think to convince players to come and play for Pompey with our big crowds and because we won the FA Cup in 2008.

‘We are a League Two club and we are where we are. It’s a reality check for us all.

‘If there is a team in League One that is not half the size of this club that also wants a player we want, the likelihood is that he will go there.

‘Maybe some don’t understand that but they need to.

‘It’s not just supporters, it is everyone. I thought the same myself but I have learnt the hard way.

‘It’s a fantasy that players will just come to us because we are Pompey.

‘It’s not as easy as “it’s good old Pompey – they are a big club”.

‘It doesn’t work like that.’

While Awford knows he has the upper hand against other League Two clubs for players, others take more convincing to step down.

He added: ‘When you are competing with other League Two clubs, we do have an advantage because we are the bigger club and have 13,000 people watching us most weeks.

‘But if a player drops down to League Two and it doesn’t work out, where do they go?

‘If they go to League One and it doesn’t work out, they have still got that fallback of League Two.’

Awford, however, has not ruled out making another attempt for the striker.

‘If he (Pompey target) goes to League One, then great – good luck to him,’ said Awford.

‘But if that doesn’t come off and there is still a possibility to take him, then I will do it.

‘I had a conversation with his manager that he was available.

‘But others then came into play and the player has the decision to make.

‘It wasn’t that I was specifically looking for a striker – he is just a player that we like.’