Awford backed for youth revolution

Pompey keeper Luke McGee endured a difficult afternoon at Ewood Park Picture: Joe Pepler

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Andy Awford is the man to get Pompey’s youth production line back on track.

That is the verdict of Steve Cotterill, who led the pursuit of the Blues favourite to bring him back to the club.

Awford was appointed Academy manager a fortnight ago to headline a revamped system.

Paul Hardyman has also returned to the set-up, as changes are made following the departure of Paul Smalley before Christmas.

The youth set-up has lost its way in recent years – the victim of club cut backs during times of financial crisis.

The Academy side currently sit bottom of the Premier Academy League group A with just four points from 16 matches before today.

Clearly, there is plenty of work required.

Awford, who possesses a Uefa A coaching licence and formerly coached Pompey reserves as well as Oxford, quit his job as a PE teacher at Ditcham Park School in Petersfield to take up the reins.

He will initially be in charge until the end of the season for an interim period but Cotterill, right, believes it can be a successful partnership.

He said: ‘I think it’s an excellent appointment.

‘Andy is a good lad. I think he will be organised, he will be disciplined and he is a face for parents to see.

‘He knows the area very well and, from what I’m told, he did well on his Uefa A coaching licence.

‘Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks, I will get to have a look at him on the training pitch and see him coaching the kids.

‘He has got some good ideas and, hopefully, he will do a good job.

‘It’s until the end of the season at this moment in time and we will wait and see how things go.

‘I have said to him “let’s have a little look at things” and if he enjoys it and the kids enjoy him then who knows where we go from here?

‘Andy has said he would like to do it long-term but, in this interim period, he provides a bit of stability.

‘He texted me last Saturday. They (the Academy) had been beaten narrowly 1-0 against Crystal Palace and he seemed happy with their performance.

‘Hopefully, he will do a good job. I think he will be okay.’

Meanwhile, former director of youth, Dave Hurst, has come out of retirement to join forces with Awford.

The 68-year-old spent 30 years at Fratton Park, discovering the likes of Awford, Darren Anderton, Kit Symons, Marc Wilson and Asmir Begovic, to name just a few.

He retired in 2006 but has now come back to help with youth recruitment – at no cost to the club.

Following cut backs over recent years, the club’s scouting system had been decimated, falling behind other local rivals in the hunt for young players.

Now Pompey are hoping with the likes of Awford, Hurst and Hardyman on board, their fortunes can be changed.