Pompey told they can rely on Eastwood

Simon Eastwood. Picture: Barry Zee
Simon Eastwood. Picture: Barry Zee

Simon Eastwood is ready to shine for Pompey following Alex Cisak’s shock exit.

That is the verdict of goalkeeping coach John Keeley, who is convinced the youngster can prove himself.

Eastwood has been thrust into the first-team frame after Cisak yesterday returned to Oldham.

The Latics invoked a 24-hour recall clause in the loan deal after Dean Bouzanis was sent off on Tuesday night.

Pompey were this morning informed by the Football League they will not have special dispensation to recruit a replacement keeper outside of the emergency loan window.

It leaves Eastwood as the only senior keeper at the club, putting him in the frame for an extended run in the side.

The 23-year-old has already made four appearances in four different competitions. And Keeley is confident he will not let the Blues down as he prepares to feature regularly.

He said: ‘At the start of the season Mikkel Andersen came in and I said Eastie was not ready.

‘It was like when Stephen Henderson first arrived.

‘We went with Jamie Ashdown as Stephen needed a bit more coaching to get himself properly fit. He got there, though.

‘Now Eastie is at a point where we can rely on him to go in there and perform.

‘He has worked so hard with me, then in the afternoons with Chris Neville on his strengthening work to build him up. He now looks a good size for a keeper.

‘He’s a great kid who trains 110 per cent. He is the first in and last to leave more or less.

‘The result is Eastie has improved every aspect of his game since the summer.

‘He’s a good shot-stopper, has a good starting position, is not frightened to come for crosses and kicks it far.

‘He has every attribute to be a really good keeper.

‘Although we lost 2-0 in his last game against Notts County, I thought he had a decent match.

‘Against Wycombe (Johnstone’s Paint Trophy) he made some good saves and was not backed up by his defence.

‘I set a certain standard of goalkeeping and if they are not ready I will tell them. But Eastie is ready.

‘He is likely to get his chance because of the situation we are in – and I am pretty certain he will do a good job for us.’

Eastwood started his career at Huddersfield and also had loan spells at Bradford and Oxford.

But last season he was a regular at Blue Square Bet North side FC Halifax.

Then in the summer he arrived on trial at Fratton Park, doing enough to return to the Football League.

Keeley added: ‘When you’ve been a pro and all of a sudden drop out, you have a different attitude second time around.

‘It makes you really appreciate what you have missed.

‘Then you get that bit between your teeth, determined you are never going back to keeping in non-league football.’