Awford: I never had doubts over Jed future

Jed Wallace. Picture: Joe Pepler
Jed Wallace. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey's Brett Pitman scores a penalty in the Blues' 1-1 draw against Walsall at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

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Andy Awford insists he never had any doubts Jed Wallace would remain at Pompey.

The Blues boss was confident, even though the popular 20-year-old was widely expected to leave Fratton Park this summer – a fear even held among some of the Pompey hierarchy.

Yet on Friday, the attacking midfielder provided a massive boost by signing a new three-year deal.

It is testament not only to the promising direction Wallace sees the club heading but also the close relationship he shares with former Academy boss Awford.

Certainly the influence of Pompey’s new boss has proven the decisive factor for a player who turned down Peterborough in January and also had other interest.

And Awford has revealed he was certain the youngster would pledge his future.

He said: ‘I knew Jed would stay, even when I was Academy manager.

‘I know the lad inside out and it was also a gut instinct.

‘I took him out of non-league.

‘Steve Cotterill deserves a lot of credit for that as does Steve Allen, who brought him into the football club – then me and Paul Hardyman took him on from there.

‘I have known him since he was 16 and he has done very well, I have spent a lot of time with him, nurturing him, it has been my job.

‘Now it’s the same job but at a different stage of his career so we have come through it together.

‘We didn’t meet last week in the end (for further talks), Jed was shattered from his flight so we spoke over the phone.

‘I know him, I didn’t need to look him in the whites of the eyes, a phonecall was sufficient for me and it was all agreed Tuesday night between us and was about then sorting little bits with his contract.

‘I actually had two chats with him last season when I was Academy manager.

‘He came to me because he trusts me and asked to speak, so I went to see the relevant managers to ask if it was okay because I felt it was important they knew and that was fine.

‘So we spoke about his game and Twitter and the daily Wallace that it became at one point.

‘I spoke to him about certain things and he listens, I have his ear.

‘He does trust me and he does listen to me.’

Wallace has made 71 appearances and scored 11 times since his January 2013 league debut.

But although he listens to Awford, it seems they also have their moments.

Pompey’s boss added: ‘Jed is his own man, don’t think Andy Awford tells him to jump and he says how high!

‘We have our run-ins, don’t get me wrong.

‘But he is his own person and a strong character.

‘It’s about guiding him and making sure he chooses the right path – and if he does choose the wrong one he knows why and what happened.’