Awford open to more of the wing-backs

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

Pompey midfielder will relish facing former club

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Andy Awford stands by his wing-back system – and admitted he would be prepared to roll it out again.

The Blues boss restored the 3-5-2 formation for Saturday’s trip to Wycombe, returning with an impressive point.

Such was the encouraging display from the visitors, they departed Adams Park disappointed not to have claimed victory.

The wing-back system was previously scrapped following a 3-0 defeat at Bury back on October 18.

Since that moment Awford has largely employed a 4-4-2 line-up, yet wins have still proven difficult to come by.

Regardless, it was a success at the home of the league leaders, with debutant Josh Passley serving as right wing-back.

Next up for the Blues is the crucial clash with Hartlepool at Fratton Park.

And Awford has every faith the system could again be effectively used in the future.

He said: ‘The wing-back system can create goals, some of the best teams in the world play three at the back, I have no problem with it.

‘I changed the system against Wycombe and put in different personnel, I wanted to freshen it up, that was all.

‘I was always going to play a back three, even if we beat Southend the previous week.

‘Changing the shape was in the thinking because we had seen them (Wycombe) play a couple of times.

‘It’s my job to make decisions like that, ask any manager in the country, if you can’t make big decisions then you shouldn’t be in the job.

‘It’s about the group, I pick a best XI I feel is suitable for a match, game-by-game, that’s my job.

‘You have to pick teams for different games, I felt the three central defenders who played on Saturday were the right option and we’ll see what happens next week.

‘But I would consider playing that system again.’

For Ben Chorley it was a first start in seven games, while Jack Whatmough was back in the side having not been named in a line-up for four matches.

The pair joined Paul Robinson as a back three, with Passley right wing-back and the recalled Dan Butler on the left.

They were among six changes, with Danny Hollands coming into midfield and Ryan Taylor asked to partner Matt Tubbs in attack.

And Awford was delighted with how his team to a man fared against the Chairboys.

He added: ‘Jed did his job behind the front two and was a good player in a good team performance.

‘He can play that role, he has good energy levels and likes playing in-field, even when he plays wide he drifts in-field.

‘Picking Ryan instead of Craig (Westcarr) was just my choice. I am not going to go into too much detail, that is just my choice and who I wanted to pair up front.

‘Previously I have gone with a couple of different options.’