Cotterill throws down goalie gauntlet to Ashdown

Jamie Ashdown has played every minute of Pompey's league matches this season
Jamie Ashdown has played every minute of Pompey's league matches this season

Pompey boss praise for riding out defensive storm

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Steve Cotterill has challenged Jamie Ashdown to become a Pompey ever-present.

The Blues boss wants to see Ashdown continue his run of playing every minute of every league game until the end of the season.

Cotterill has hailed the character of the Blues’ No1, who he feels has been in outstanding and consistent form this campaign.

A rare mistake against QPR was costly last week but the 30-year-old was back to his assured best against Derby on Saturday.

Cotterill feels the keeper has relished succeeding David James as first choice in goal this season.

Ashdown has battled back from injury to continue his record of playing every game so far.

Now Cotterill wants to see him keep up that unblemished record.

He said: ‘Jamie’s been playing, that’s the big thing.

‘You have got to bear in mind this lad has been sub for six years so he’s deserved his chance.

‘I am really, really pleased looking back now that we took him to America (in the summer), rehabbed him and got to find that little bit about him.

‘I think he’s become very good for us. He has worked extremely hard every day and was gutted by that goal against QPR.

‘He had an appendix operation this season and played nine days later. I think he’s been first class.

‘I think he’s had a couple of moments this season like that but he’s played.

‘What I want Jamie Ashdown to do is at the end of the season have 46 in brackets.

‘I think that is a big mental barrier that he needs to get through that he hasn’t got through for a long time.

‘There could have been a couple of times this season where he could have pulled out.

‘He has had a bad toe on a couple of occasions and that appendix problem.

‘I think, probably with a little bit of pushing and shoving and his own will to want to play, he’s got out on the pitch.

‘He will be a better keeper for it this year once he has had this summer to reflect on quite what he has achieved.’

It took little time for Cotterill to realise the quality of Ashdown’s character when he took him on the club’s pre-season tour of North America.

That followed on from him being released by the Blues after their relegation from the Premier League.

The Pompey manager wanted to assess if the keeper was a ‘waster’ who had been content to sit in the wings at Fratton Park.

He was soon convinced of his desire to establish himself as first choice, though.

Cotterill said: ‘Jamie had a couple of injuries and, maybe, they thought that would be it for him. At the end of the season he had a bad knee.

‘We definitely did the right thing in bringing him back.

‘I knew him from when he was at Reading. I thought we can try someone who’s new or go with someone who wants to play and be No1.

‘For someone of his pedigree it wasn’t a big risk.

‘Taking him to America was important because then I could find out about what type of person he was.

‘He could have been a waster who was happy to sit on the bench or he could have been a self-motivated individual who wanted to be No1. Fortunately for me it proved to be the latter.’

Cotterill knew Ashdown would have given himself a hard time after spilling Adel Taarabt’s 35-yarder at Loftus Road last Tuesday.

But he pointed to the form and saves which have rescued his side this season as reason to soon forget about that.

Cotterill said: ‘I spoke to him at the end of the game.

‘He’s probably taken a hundred balls in training this week and caught every one of them.

‘He’s proven. After the final whistle he was my first thought because he probably thought the result came from his mistake.

‘He may have been right but he’s human and we make mistakes. You can’t castigate someone who has been as good as he’s been this season.

‘If you are a keeper and make a mistake it ends up in the back of the net.

‘A striker makes 10 mistakes, he gets five out of 10 in the paper and that’s it.

‘Jamie Ashdown has been terrific and he will be terrific between now and the end of the season because he’s a good goalkeeper who works extremely hard.‘