Andy Awford convinced Pompey will beat drop

Caretaker boss Andy Awford Picture: Joe Pepler
Caretaker boss Andy Awford Picture: Joe Pepler
Stuart O'Keefe. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey midfielder will relish facing former club

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Andy Awford sounded the Pompey battle cry as he insisted: I’m convinced we will beat the drop.

The Academy manager was placed in caretaker charge yesterday – after Richie Barker left the club by mutual consent – and given a seven-game remit to save the Blues from relegation out of the Football League.

And the former Pompey skipper, who played more than 300 games for the club, is ready for the challenge.

He is adamant he can save the Blues, starting with tomorrow’s trip to Newport.

Awford said: ‘I didn’t think twice and my feeling is that I am convinced we will stay up.

‘It will be hard work and a rollercoaster because it’s Pompey – that’s what we do.

‘I’m nervously excited but my eyes are wide open and I can’t wait to get cracking.

‘It’s a huge challenge.

‘But if I didn’t think we were capable of staying in the Football League, I wouldn’t have taken the job.

‘I know it’s everything to the supporters and to everyone associated with this club.

‘But I do believe we will stay in the Football League.’

The 41-year-old’s appointment was roundly welcomed by Blues fans who had lost faith in Barker in recent weeks, after just four wins in 20 games at the helm.

And Awford is determined to lift the cloud of negativity that had descended on the club while he restores some belief among the supporters.

‘I don’t have to call upon the fans to back us,’ he said.

‘They know me and I know them. I know they’ll help us.

‘We need that unity and we need them behind us.

‘I don’t take it for granted but they will back us – I know that – as long as we are doing it right.

‘The players have been told that they have a responsibility to the fans to make sure that they approach things in the right way.

‘If the fans see us doing the right things, they will allow mistakes.

‘And I need the players to be given the freedom to express themselves and to be allowed to make mistakes.

‘I need the players feeling 10ft tall when they walk out on to that pitch.’

Awford, who took caretaker charge when Guy Whittingham was sacked back last November, has delayed all talk of taking the job on a permanent basis.

He said: ‘If we don’t get this season right, there is no next season.

‘At the moment, it is five weeks of work and seven games – that’s all I am thinking about.’

And although a loan move for ex-Blues favourite Jamie O’Hara failed to come off, Awford was delighted to add Charlton midfielder Danny Hollands on loan.

‘I have watched him many times,’ added Awford.

‘He will improve us. With Toumani Diagouraga going back to Brentford, it left us a little bit light in midfield so we’ve strengthened there.

‘He will be a very good acquisition for us.’