Awford: No pressure for striker clear out

Ryan Bird, in action against the Hawks on Saturday, is one of seven strikers currently in Pompey's first-team ranks Picture: Mick Young

Ryan Bird, in action against the Hawks on Saturday, is one of seven strikers currently in Pompey's first-team ranks Picture: Mick Young

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Andy Awford has insisted he does not have to reduce his sizeable Pompey striking pool.

Last week’s loan arrival of Miles Storey has swelled the Blues’ attacking options for the campaign ahead.

He joins Craig Westcarr, Ryan Taylor, Patrick Agyemang, Ryan Bird, Tom Craddock and David Connolly in vying for places.

With Awford continuing to favour a 4-2-3-1 formation which served him so impressively last season, effectively there is just one central striking spot up for grabs.

Of those seven, Connolly is out of favour and Craddock is continuing his injury recovery.

But Pompey boss Awford is adamant he is not seeking to off-load any of the candidates to lead his front line in League Two this season.

‘We are on budget so nobody has to go,’ said Awford.

‘I am not going to have just two or three strikers in the squad.

‘You can probably see the majority of them can play in a range of positions so they are all quite flexible.

‘You have a couple who are out-and-out centre-forwards and the others can all play across the line.

‘From that point of view they can do all those sort of jobs but I also want competition and I think the lads do as well.

‘I don’t want anyone to be comfortable and that is the challenge for them to get the shirt and then retain it.

‘Obviously, if someone approaches me or the club and we feel it’s right for the club to move someone on then I would seriously consider it.

‘But at the moment I am under no pressure whatsoever to get rid of anybody.’

Storey, Bird and Westcarr demonstrated their versatility against the Hawks in last weekend’s 4-0 friendly success.

All at one stage featured in the three roles operating behind the lone striker during a second half in which the entire four goals arrived.

Westcarr finished with two on his Blues bow, while Bird also scored and was involved in the build-up to the other three goals.

Agyemang started the match as the lone centre-forward, giving way to Taylor after 32 minutes.

The pair are considered as the more natural option in such a role, with Taylor, in particular, impressing following his arrival from Bristol City in January.

Meanwhile, Craddock is still undergoing rehabilitation on the knee surgery he underwent in December.

No time frame has been given for his expected return to first-team training.

As for Connolly, it appears he has no future at Pompey following his omission from the 26-man squad at Westleigh Park.

Awford has declined to go into depth on the situation.

However, Connolly is expected to be given a squad number upon their release before this weekend.

It remains to be seen whether he features against Bognor on Saturday.