Awford won’t let youngsters be distracted by Southampton

Andy Awford
Andy Awford

Andy Awford has instructed his youngsters to ignore a potential south coast derby and focus on Barton Rovers.

The Academy take on the non-leaguers in the second round of the FA Youth Cup at Fratton Park tonight (7pm).

They do so in the knowledge the winners will have a tantalising St Mary’s trip waiting for them this side of Christmas.

Pompey’s youngsters thumped Moneyfields 12-0 in the previous round and will be rightly regarded as favourites over the Bedfordshire outfit.

Academy boss Awford, though, is refusing to contemplate what lies ahead in the cup until after this evening.

He said: ‘I know it is a cliché but we have got to take one game at a time.

‘Obviously, the carrot is there with Southampton and the players are well aware that we could be facing them.

‘But our eyes are firmly fixed on Barton only and we will be treating them with the utmost respect.

‘Myself and Paul (Hardyman) watched them win 1-0 at Stevenage the other night, which was a bit of a shock, and they are a good, strong side.

‘Nobody has got through to face Southampton yet and this will be a tough game.

‘There hasn’t even been a date set for Southampton, although it will have to be played before December 21 regardless of the opposition.

‘We try to do things professionally. Even if we were to go through, there would be four league games and three development ones before then – you just can’t get distracted about something down the line.

‘Our lads prepared properly for Moneyfields and will have prepared the same for tonight.’

Striker Conor Chaplin (back) will be missing tonight but otherwise it will be a full-strength squad for Pompey.