New boy Conor’s playing the name game

Republic of Ireland under-21 international Conor Clifford
Republic of Ireland under-21 international Conor Clifford

Conor Clifford made his Pompey bow and admitted: I didn’t even know everyone’s name!

Clifford got a second-half appearance under his belt in the 3-0 success over Bolton on Saturday.

The 20-year-old has arrived on trial from Chelsea and looked impressive in a dominant Blues display.

Clifford has a year left on his existing contract at Stamford Bridge.

He is looking to get regular first-team football under his belt, with a host of stars in front of him in the pecking order with the European champions.

Clifford enjoyed his first experience of football at Fratton Park – even if he didn’t know some of the players he was lining up with.

He said: ‘There are a lot of young lads here.

‘I didn’t even know everyone’s name before getting on the pitch!

‘Sometimes that works well because people are fired up and want to show what they can do.

‘I’ve been training with the first team nearly every day at Chelsea but not getting anywhere near the squad.

‘Just over a week ago I had a reserve game against Northampton.

‘There were people there watching and they obviously liked what they saw. So I got the phone call from there and I was delighted about it.

‘It all came from there and gave me the chance to play against Bolton on Saturday.’

It’s been a whirlwind few days for Clifford after the call came to link up with Michael Appleton’s side – but the Republic of Ireland under-21 international did get a couple of days of training with Pompey under his belt at the end of last week.

Clifford, who has already had loan spells with Plymouth, Notts County and Yeovil in his young career, insisted he loved playing in front of the Pompey fans.

There may have been just 4,193 supporters at the game but the midfielder was impressed with the atmosphere they created, as the club’s problems continue.

‘You wouldn’t know everything that’s going on around the club,’ said Clifford.

‘People are getting on with it in training and the banter is great.

‘Everyone was fired up for the fans, who don’t stop singing, and wanted to impress them.

‘From what I’ve seen, you wouldn’t know there were problems off the pitch. It’s been good so far.’

– JORDAN CROSS