MATT RITCHIE’s surprise Scotland call-up has been lauded by Andy Awford.
The Gosport ace has been selected by Gordon Strachan for the upcoming international double-header with Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.
It’s reward for a flying season at Championship leaders Bournemouth for the 25-year-old.
Awford knows the former Pompey man well from his time at Fratton Park.
He feels the selection is reward for his professionalism and work ethic.
Awford said: ‘It’s brilliant news and my congratulations go to Matt.
‘I know him really well from his time here and we exchange the odd text.
‘He’s had a heck of a season.
‘It’s not just been this season, either.
‘He’s been excellent for a number of seasons now.
‘He’s been so consistent with his performances.
‘I’m delighted for him and I wish him all the best.
‘Hopefully, he gets a few more call-ups.
‘He’s a real good man with a great attitude and work ethic. He has a terrific attitude.
‘We get on well. He’s local and when he’s been at our games he sticks his head in the door and says hello.
‘I really like him and I have a lot of time for him.’
Despite coming through the ranks at Fratton Park, Ritchie made just 10 senior appearances before departing for Swindon on loan in 2010 and then making the move permanent in 2011.
After loan spells at Dagenham & Redbridge, as well as Notts County, then Pompey boss Steve Cotterill made the decision he was surplus to requirements.
Ritchie has previously stated he holds no grudges against his former manager for that decision.
But Awford believes the player warrants praise for bouncing back so well.
He said: ‘That’s what it’s all about – opinions.
‘No manager gets every decision right. We’re all human.
‘So Matt’s had a few things to deal with in his career.
‘But he’s dealt with them and pushed on.
‘Now he’s getting his rewards for that work.’