Cotterill hails new-look keeper

Stuart O'Keefe. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey midfielder will relish facing former club

Steve Cotterill believes 'revelation' Jamie Ashdown is finally proving his Pompey worth.

The long-serving keeper's career has been rejuvenated since Cotterill came to the club as boss.

After initially taking the 30-year-old on trial, the Blues manager instructed him to ditch the weights in a bid to get him back on track.

The result has been a bulked-down Ashdown earning himself a new deal and at last given the opportunity to impress.

After a slow start to the season, the ex-Reading man has produced some superb displays on a consistent basis to emerge as a key performer.

And Cotterill is delighted with the keeper's impact.

He said: 'Without a shadow of a doubt, Jamie has been a revelation for us this year. Absolutely superb.

'I felt at the start of the season he wasn't perhaps as agile as he could be because he spent six years in the gym.

'Rather than being out there diving around, catching and kicking it, he used to go on the weights or whatever.

'Now he is slimmer and more agile and that is great credit to him. He's no longer muscle-bound.

'Everyone used to say what a fantastic sample Frank Bruno looked when he used to get in the ring – then all of a sudden somebody would chin him.

'By the way, if you are reading this Frank, I am not knocking you!

'I said I didn't want Jamie in the gym all the time. I wanted him to do lighter weights to keep his tone.

'Now he has slimmed off and is a lot more agile.

'His character has epitomised everything about the dressing room this season. He has done really, really well.'

Ashdown has made 29 appearances so far this season.

In contrast, he had totalled 53 games in the previous six campaigns.

After for so long being David James' un-derstudy, the stopper is revelling in regular first-team football.

Now he is Cotterill's undisputed number one.

That despite having Darryl Flahavan at the club on a month-to-month contract.

But Cotterill revealed he had no doubts about Ashdown's ability to shine.

He added: 'Jamie is my number one and I decided that very, very early on.

'It made the decision even stronger when I got to know his character out in America and saw how hard he worked.

'We've also got Flavs here as back-up.

'I can't understand why Flavs wasn't doing anything in the summer, so I brought him here.

'The chances are he will be here until the end of the season.

'But Jamie is my number one.'