Pompey launch keeper hunt

Andy Awford is keen to bring in a new keeper on a short-term deal. Picture: Joe Pepler
Andy Awford is keen to bring in a new keeper on a short-term deal. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey have been forced to embark on a goalkeeping hunt following an injury to Michael Poke.

The summer arrival picked up an Achilles problem in training on Monday and is out for a period which has still to be defined.

That has prompted Andy Awford to urgently seek a short-term replacement as back-up to Paul Jones.

And he wants a recruit in place ahead of Saturday’s visit of Cambridge United.

Alex Bass dropped out of Academy duty to replace Poke on the bench in Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup victory over Peterborough.

Yet Awford believes the 16-year-old is not ready to serve as a first-team deputy, regardless of the timeframe.

And the search is on for an alternative.

He said: ‘Michael has picked up a bit of an Achilles injury.

‘There was no particular incident which caused it, he has just come off and it’s a bit sore.

‘We’ve had a look at it and it’s a sore Achilles. If he carries on it is going to get worse and there’s no point in doing that.

‘So we will try to bring another goalkeeper in before the weekend on a short-term contract. Once Michael is fit we will shake hands and he can go back to where he has come from.

‘I am gutted for Alex (Bass) because the youth team had a game on Tuesday morning down in Exeter and won on penalties in the cup.

‘But I had to keep him out of the game because I didn’t have time to get another player in to replace Michael.

‘We’ve got that many games coming up and it would be a risk going in with only one goalkeeper.

‘Alex is a fantastic lad and a fantastic goalkeeper but he is 16 and I don’t really want to be putting him out there if I don’t have to.

‘So Michael’s replacement will be either out-of-contract or coming in on a loan.

‘Michael’s not had the best of starts for us unfortunately, just when he’s getting fit he’s picked up another injury.

‘We’ll have to get to the bottom of that one and get him fit as quickly as we can – but that’s football.’

Poke had previously been absent for part of Pompey’s pre-season after turning his ankle in training.

As a result, Bass made two substitute appearances during the friendly programme, while travelling with the squad to their week-long Five Lakes training camp.

Meanwhile, Awford has revealed Ricky Holmes may not be ready to return from his thigh problem against Cambridge.

He added: ‘I didn’t want Ricky to start against Peterborough or be on the bench.

‘He has had a couple of training sessions now and the weekend might come a bit too soon for him.

‘But today and tomorrow he will train with us and we’ll see if we can get him back into the squad.’