Awford delivers Butler assurance

Dan Butler. Picture: Joe Pepler
Dan Butler. Picture: Joe Pepler
  • Butler has made 28 Pompey appearances this season
  • The 20-year-old is out of contract in the summer

Andy Awford has reassured Dan Butler: You will get your chance.

The left-back has found himself out of the Pompey side following the loan signing of Cole Kpekawa in March.

Dan is fine, I have spoken to him about the reasons why I have left him out the last couple of games and that will stay between me and Dan

Andy Awford

The 21-year-old had started 11 matches in a row before the QPR defender’s arrival, after Awford restored the wing-back system at the end of January.

But the manager’s decision to bring in Kpekawa until the end of the season has seen Butler relegated to the bench for the past two games.

The Blackpool-born defender is two years Butler’s junior and had played just four Football League matches before his Fratton Park entrance.

Since then he has featured in successive defeats to AFC Wimbledon and Shrewsbury, with his wing-back rival an unused substitute.

There are seven matches remaining for the Blues this season, with Butler among 11 players out of contract in the summer.

But Awford has indicated he could play in his side again.

He said: ‘Dan is still in the mix, he is an important part of the squad and it is my job to pick personnel.

‘He has not been picked for the last couple of games but will still get opportunities.

‘Dan is fine. I have spoken to him about the reasons why I have left him out the last couple of games and that will stay between me and Dan.

‘Those reasons need to stay between me and Dan.

‘I thought Cole did better in the second half (against Shrewsbury) when we had our better spell.

‘He is still learning, he’s a young lad, that is the first time he will have ever played in front of that many people.

‘We hope for more improvement from him.’

Pompey have been in talks with Butler’s representatives over a new deal since before December.

Awford has frequently stressed the importance of keeping the Isle of Wight youngster at Fratton Park as he seeks to build his team.

The Academy product has made 28 appearances this season and dislodged former England international Nicky Shorey from the left-back slot.

In total, he has racked up 48 appearances since making his debut in the Capital One Cup at Plymouth in August 2012.

But this has been Butler’s breakthrough season, having turned out just twice for the Blues last term.

In contrast, Kpekawa made his Football League debut in November, during a six-game loan spell at Colchester.

The 18-year-old returned to Loftus Road in mid-January, having lost his place in the U’s squad. He is out of contract at QPR this summer.