Pompey boss Keene to finally unleash striker

James Keene has been patiently training with Pompey. Picture: Sarah Standing (1372-6135)
James Keene has been patiently training with Pompey. Picture: Sarah Standing (1372-6135)

Guy Whittingham got ready to finally unleash James Keene and promised: The fans will take to him.

The 27-year-old arrived on loan from Elfsborg at the start of the month, clinching a return to the club he served as an apprentice.

But the cancellation of matches over successive weekends has ensured his entrance has had to be put on hold.

Keene was pencilled in to start against both Notts County and Scunthorpe – until the weather intervened.

Since then Frankie Sutherland, Sam Sodje and Adam Reed have all landed at Fratton Park.

The weather outlook is rather more encouraging for Saturday’s visit of Hartlepool.

Once again, Keene is in the frame to make his second Pompey debut. And Whittingham is confident the fans won’t be disappointed.

He said: ‘It has been frustrating for James.

‘He has not played a game for us yet but he’s been here for three weeks!

‘Obviously he was going to start both those matches but they were called off.

‘The fans have been waiting a while to see him in action but they will take to him, for sure.

‘He’s a good lad and another one you want here because he is one of those that will run and keep on running.

‘I just think he is a player who will run the channels for you.

‘We also have David Connolly and Ashley Harris.

‘Ashley has those little clever moves around the box, Connolly can get down the sides and James can do both.

‘I remember him as a teenager here years ago but you are going to develop playing in the top flight of Swedish football for the last seven years.

‘The fact James has that genuine affection for this club also helps.

‘We need people like that who understand what this football club is about.

‘Not everybody who goes out there is going to be like that but he’s been training hard and will give 100 per cent.

‘The fans will like what they see.’

Sodje and Reed have been training with the club this week ahead of their moves.

The duo will today put pen to paper on one-month deals and go straight into the squad for Saturday’s league match.

Throw in Sutherland, who arrived on loan from QPR last week, and there could be four debutants against Hartlepool.

The caretaker boss added: ‘Sam and Adam have been training with us all week and will sign.

‘Once cleared they will be in the squad for Saturday and give us some important options.

‘We’re also looking to get another player in before the Hartlepool game, so we’ll have to see.

‘There are some triallists as well at the minute and we’ll keep on trying to strengthen the squad and increasing numbers.’