Awford satisfied with Wallace withdrawal

Jed Wallace. Picture: Joe Pepler
Jed Wallace. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey's Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

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He was Pompey’s star man in the opening 45 minutes against Northampton.

But Andy Awford insists it was the correct decision to withdraw Jed Wallace at half-time.

The midfielder was one of four players who retained their places for Tuesday night’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash with the Cobblers.

Competition rules restrict comprehensive alterations to a side, hampering Awford’s selection plans.

As a result, the likes of Andy Barcham and Adam Webster were denied the opportunity to start against Chris Wilder’s team and gain precious match action.

They were instead named among the substitutes.

That prompted Awford to bring Barcham on at half-time with the score 1-1, regardless of the lively Wallace’s performance.

The 20-year-old is the only outfield player to have appeared in every single match this season – 15 of them in all competitions.

And Awford revealed he took the substitute decision in the interests of both the youngster and Barcham.

He said: ‘There was no precaution whatsoever with Jed. He is not injured, he has not got any problems.

‘But he has played so many minutes, he really has, and I also wanted to be fair to Andy Barcham because he hasn’t had many minutes of late.

‘If I am honest I would have probably left Jed out and played Andy from the start but because of the rules I couldn’t.

‘That’s the disappointing thing for me, so Andy had to wait until half-time before we could get him on.

‘Jed didn’t want to come off but I explained to him the reasons why and then he understood it and is fit and raring to go for the visit of Mansfield on Saturday.’

Wallace is Pompey’s leading scorer with five goals in 15 appearances so far this season.

The sole league match he has not started was the 1-0 victory at Michael Appleton’s Oxford in August.

However, the midfielder was still introduced at half-time to play a right-sided role in place of Ricky Holmes, who had already been booked.

Fellow first-team regulars James Dunne, Danny Hollands, Paul Robinson and Craig Westcarr were all rested from the Fratton squad for Northampton’s visit.

They will be in the frame for a return against Mansfield on Saturday – as will Wallace.

The former Lewes player has totalled 86 appearances for Pompey, netting 18 times.