Patience paying off for Howard

Brian Howard holds off the challenge of Bolton midfielder Keith Andrews during Saturday's 3-0 pre-season friendly win at Fratton Park

Brian Howard holds off the challenge of Bolton midfielder Keith Andrews during Saturday's 3-0 pre-season friendly win at Fratton Park

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Saturday’s super showing against Bolton could convince Brian Howard he has a Pompey future.

That is the verdict of Michael Appleton, who is looking to persuade the in-demand midfielder to retain his patience as the club’s wait for a new owner continues.

Howard played an integral role, alongside Liam Lawrence in the heart of the Blues’ midfield, during the impressive display against Owen Coyle’s Trotters.

He helped inspire Appleton’s men to a 3-0 victory against the Championship visitors who were made to look very ordinary.

Howard also donned the captain’s armband for the final 18 minutes after Lawrence had been substituted.

The former Reading man has already extended his self-imposed August 1 deadline to decide his playing future.

The likelihood is Balram Chainrai’s Portpin will seal their takeover this week, with the Pompey Supporters’ Trust also pushing hard.

And Appleton remains hopeful Howard will continue to wait after witnessing an encouraging glimpse of what the future may hold at Fratton Park.

He said: ‘With Brian, days and performances like Saturday will probably help persuade him to stay here.

‘But in saying that, the flipside is, if you put performances in like that and play well there are other people keeping an eye on it and watching as well.

‘I have just got to keep them happy and in a good frame of mind.

‘Hopefully he gets and sees what I am trying to do down here.

‘You have to have a relationship with him, it’s as simple as that, that’s why you are the manager.

‘People might say “did you not have that with Simon Gillett?”.

‘We did but sometimes it has got to come from the player within, as well.

‘You have to ask has he got a vision, has he got the same vision as me, does he want to go elsewhere and be a squad player?

‘We said we would have a conversation again today.

‘I spoke to his agent on Friday and he is realistic enough to know nothing can go beyond Friday anyway so something has got to give.

‘There is another game for him to play on Wednesday against AFC Wimbledon regardless of whether he is here beyond Friday.

‘It’s certainly another opportunity – if he wants it – to get another 90 minutes.’

Meanwhile, Appleton was also full of praise for Lawrence.

The Republic of Ireland midfielder is one of two senior players on high wages remaining at Fratton Park – the other being Tal Ben Haim – and has attracted interest.

The Blues are also exploring the possibility of renegotiating his contract.

And Appleton was impressed with Lawrence’s contribution of a goal and an assist in the victory.

He added: ‘Liam was very good – exactly what I expected anyway.

‘He tired towards the end on Saturday, that is why we brought him off.

‘Whether it’s for Portsmouth or someone else he will always be a key player.

‘Who knows what will happen there and whether he could stay?

‘We have four days left, there are desperate measures and certain scenarios, you just don’t know.

‘I am sure at the minute he, his agent and the club are working hard to come up with some kind of solution.

‘If a solution is not going elsewhere then you just don’t know.’