Pompey right-back scrap hots up

Pompey defender Adam Webster Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey defender Adam Webster Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey’s season is under starter’s orders, but the race to be Andy Awford’s right-back has already begun.

Alex Wynter’s arrival has cranked up the competition in the build-up to League Two’s August 9 kick-off.

Nicky Shorey and Dan Butler will vie to line up for the Blues at left-back in the season ahead.

Yet Wynter now joins Danny East and Adam Webster in the battle to emerge as the chosen one in the other full-back position.

The Blues employed no fewer than six different players in the role last season, with Yassin Moutaouakil, Joe Devera, East, Shaun Cooper, Daniel Alfei and Webster all featuring.

Now Awford is permanently at the helm and charged with identifying the candidate to start against Exeter in next month’s Football League opener.

In the meantime, Wynter, East and Webster will be given their opportunity to stake a claim during the pre-season friendly programme.

That starts at the Hawks on Saturday, with Pompey’s boss seeking to rotate his squad to give all a run out.

Webster started three of the final six games of last season, scoring in victories over Hartlepool and Bristol Rovers.

East returned to the side for the final three matches and lined-up on the right-hand side of midfield, at right-back and as a holding midfielder.

The new challenger is Wynter – a central defender who can play at right-back and also turned out at left-back during a Colchester loan spell last term.

Of the trio, two are centre-halves by trade, while East can also operate in midfield.

Awford has previously favoured a 4-2-3-1 system, which can have reduced attacking demands on his selected right-back.

But Pompey’s boss admits the remit can still vary.

He said: ‘It depends what you ask your wide players to do. If your wide players come in off the line then where is your width?

‘If you play, say, Mark Kelly on the left-wing then they are not really going to give the full-back too much opportunity to go past him.

‘If I was to play Jed Wallace on the left-wing and ask him to come infield and pick the ball up in pockets of space, that would allow the full-back room.

‘That all goes into the team planning that is game-by-game. You might see a flaw in the opposition you want to expose so that is getting down to detail and all goes down to the training pitch.

‘Webster may not be as attacking as Daniel Alfei, but then again, Webster is not really an out-and-out attacking full-back yet flew down the right-wing last year on many occasions and ended up scoring twice.

‘You just don’t know. If I asked Alex to do that role I am sure he would to the best of his ability.

‘We might play three at the back – we can certainly do that with the players we’ve got – but we will have a look at whatever system we feel best to go with.’

Devera is another consideration at right-back, and featured there 11 times last season.

But Awford sees him pushing Ben Chorley and Jack Whatmough for a central-defensive spot, particularly following the summer exits of Bondz N’Gala and Sonny Bradley, who were regular starters.