Striker close to Pompey return

Tom Craddock. Picture: Joe Pepler
Tom Craddock. Picture: Joe Pepler

Forgotten man Tom Craddock has been pencilled in for a reserve return early in the new year.

The injury-plagued striker has stepped up his recovery from a knee injury in recent weeks and is back in training.

It’s been a long road back for the former Oxford forward, who last played in November 2013 in the 2-1 home defeat to Southend.

While Blues boss Andy Awford will not rush the 28-year-old’s progress, he has identified the reserve clash at home to Peterborough on January 6 as an opportunity to get him back on a pitch.

And Awford clearly still rates the striker, who showed his ability in glimpses last season before injury struck.

Awford said: ‘He is training with the group more and more now.

‘He is getting up to speed and he is close to taking part in a reserve game.

‘Unfortunately, we haven’t got any now until January 6.

‘But if he carries on at the rate he is at the moment, I would expect him to have some minutes in that game, which will be great.’

While there is no timescale on his possible return to the first-team ranks, it seems unlikely he will be available before the end of January at the earliest as he will need games.

But Awford believes the striker could yet provide a welcome boost to the striking options.

Awford said: ‘When he plays well, he is a handful and he’s a good player.

‘He could end up saving us a few quid – stranger things have happened.

‘He will need three or four games because he has been out for for more than a year but we will give him a chance.

‘It’s not his fault he got injured – these things happen in football.

‘He has worked tirelessly and has given it everything he’s got to get to where he is.

‘He deserves a lot of credit.’