Awford won’t rush squad revamp

Pompey boss Andy Awford Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Andy Awford Picture: Joe Pepler
Milan Lalkovic in pre-season action against the Hawks

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Andy Awford insists he will not be rushed into assembling his new-look Pompey squad.

And the Blues boss has dismissed the urgency to finalise numbers in time for the start of pre-season training on June 26.

Awford today began three days of scheduled talks with the club’s current players over their futures.

The likes of Thery Racon and Yassin Moutaouakil will not be retained – an outcome which won’t surprise Pompey fans.

They are among 16 players who appeared in the first-team this season who are out of contract this summer.

In addition, Pompey’s manager also has a recruitment drive under way to strengthen what he believes is a decent nucleus.

Last summer, former boss Guy Whittingham was eager to have his squad in place well before pre-season – although at the start of that period had only three contracted players.

But Awford is keen to bide his time as he moulds his team.

He said: ‘Getting the squad in place in time for pre-season is not a target.

‘If I have to, I will wait for the right players. I won’t just bring anybody in.

‘I won’t bring in a player for the sake of it. If we have to wait we have to wait – it won’t be rushed.

‘Guy had a very difficult job of starting with a blank piece of paper and trying to put a squad together.

‘I am in a different position in that I think I have got a nucleus to start with so that gives me an added advantage.

‘We have the nucleus of a squad here and will use that to good effect, hopefully.

‘We want as many good player as we can get, I haven’t even thought about numbers.

‘It (the squad) probably needs trimming, if I am honest. But in terms of the perfect number, I am not going to say that because I don’t know what that is.

‘Obviously, we need a squad. You can’t just have 18, but I haven’t got a figure.’

Likely to be joining Racon and Moutaouakil out the Fratton Park exit are youngsters Ashley Harris and Jack Maloney.

The local home-grown duo made only two first-team substitute appearances between them this season.

Marcos Painter, Jake Jervis, Phil Smith and Ryan Bird are also battling to remain.

Bondz N’Gala, Nicky Shorey and Trevor Carson have been regulars in the second half of the season and staked excellent claims to be rewarded with new deals.

Jed Wallace is out of contract and discussions earlier in the season were not fruitful, while the Blues are keen to activate an option in Adam Webster’s existing deal.

In addition, decisions must also be made over the long-term futures of out-of-favour pair John Sullivan and David Connolly.

They each are contracted to Fratton Park for another season and it remains to be seen whether they fit into Awford’s plans.