‘Mix and match’ for Pompey against Hawks

Craig Westcarr will be one of the many Pompey summer recruits on show
Craig Westcarr will be one of the many Pompey summer recruits on show

Andy Awford has urged Pompey fans not to give too much credence to his ‘mix-and-match’ line-up tomorrow.

The Blues’ pre-season fixture programme kicks-off against the Hawks at Westleigh Park (3pm).

It will be the first opportunity for the Fratton faithful to glimpse the seven new faces recruited this summer, plus the permanent signing of Danny Hollands.

For Awford, the overriding focus is bolstering the match fitness of his sizeable squad as he seeks to step up pre-season preparations.

The Blues boss plans to give some players a maximum of 45 minutes of action, although he is aiming to give all his named squad a run out.

He will operate the same policy at Bognor (July 19), before edging towards his preferred starting line-up during the first team’s final four friendlies.

For the time being, though, it is all about fitness.

‘There will be two different teams – I might just draw them out of a hat because it will literally be just for fitness,’ said Awford.

‘There won’t be any pairings, we won’t be looking at moulding stuff for August 9 – it is about players getting minutes in their legs and minutes in their lungs.

‘You can train and train as much as you want but we all know matches get you where you want to be.

‘We will do exactly the same in the Bognor game, and if I pair Chorley and Devera against Havant I probably won’t pair them against Bognor. I will go with a different duo – and that will happen all over the place.

‘We will mix and match it and let the players go and enjoy themselves.

‘By all means we will have a structure, we won’t just go off the cuff. There will be a method of play we want to introduce and certain things the players will be asked to do.

‘But it won’t be too detailed, it will be “go and work hard and get your fitness levels up”.

‘For the early games that will definitely be the case and we will see how we go on through pre-season.

‘You start to look at things and then get to the latter stages and start to piece things together.

‘We have got more than 22 players so on Saturday there will be some players that play 30 minutes, maybe some playing 45 but the maximum will be 45.

‘That will be the tops for anybody at this stage of pre-season and that is what we intend to do with both games coming up.’

New signings Miles Storey, Michael Poke, Paul Jones, Craig Westcarr, James Dunne and Alex Wynter will all feature against Lee Bradbury’s men.

Former Hawks midfielder Nigel Atangana will also play.

Yet while fitness is his priority, Awford insists he is still seeking to win the encounter.

He added: ‘You want to win – there’s no point playing if you don’t want to win. There’s no point counting the goals and having a referee otherwise.

‘Of course you want to win, but that is secondary at the minute. Come August 9 that will be the only thing that matters but for these games at the moment there are other things that take priority.’