Young aces will be targeted

Pompey boss Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler
  • Awford feels youngsters will be given rough ride by rivals
  • Pompey boss believes youngsters can handle special treatment
  • Former Blues defender remembers being targeted by rivals

ANDY AWFORD has got faith in Pompey’s young guns to deal with being targeted by rivals.

The Blues boss believes the likes of Jed Wallace will come in for special treatment as they make a name for themselves.

I call it secondseasonitis. People suss you.

Andy Awford

But he backed Wallace, Jack Whatmough, Adam Webster, Dan Butler and the club’s other emerging players to rise to that challenge.

Awford remembers how he had to deal with opponents preying on him after making a promising Pompey breakthrough.

He feels gaining playing time is the only way for younger players to get to grips with the tests they face.

Awford said: ‘Your second season is your hardest.

‘I call it secondseasonitis. People suss you.

‘When I played, I couldn’t head it and all of a sudden people were jumping up on me. You have to find another way.

‘My second season as a player didn’t go as well as the first.

‘The young lads get that adrenalin. Then you have that dip. Most people do – but come through at the other end.

‘Games are the key. Getting game time is key to give you experience to draw on.’

Awford, who is undertaking his Uefa pro licence coaching badge, has found his views on young players aren’t echoed everywhere in the game.

The example of Wallace, who has already played more than 100 senior games, divided opinion.

He said: ‘I was recently doing a conference call as part of the pro licence.

‘We were talking about senior pros.

‘I said define a senior pro because I’ve got a lad who’s 20 and has played 100 games.

‘Someone said you can only be a senior pro if you’re over 28. Really?

‘It was interesting to hear those views.’