Cotterill wants ‘grown up’ Halford to return

Greg Halford
Greg Halford
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Greg Halford has finally come of age.

Now the man who has overseen the Wolves defender’s rejuvenation wants him back.

The 26-year-old has endured something of a nomadic existence through the football leagues.

Fratton Park represented his seventh home in fewer than four years when he arrived in October.

A highly-promising England under-21 international with Colchester, his career never kicked on as widely anticipated.

But Halford has blossomed under Steve Cotterill’s watch.

The Blues boss identified his raw credentials to be a central defender and subsequently converted him – with outstanding results.

Halford emerged as one of Pompey’s most consistent and impressive performers during the second half of the season.

Now Cotterill is eager to bring him to Fratton Park permanently, while Halford has also revealed his willingness to return.

And for Pompey’s manager, the newly-matured defender is an absolute must.

He said: ‘If there is an opportunity to have Greg permanently, for sure it will be taken.

‘For me, something has happened with him in the last six months or so. I just think he might have grown up a bit.

‘I don’t mean that he was a baby in the first place – he’s 26.

‘But there are things I feel he has done in the last three, four and five months that have made him not only a better player but a better person.

‘Perhaps he might have benefited from having me at him for six months.

‘I just think he’s a good footballer. I like the idea of a centre-half being a good footballer.

‘Obviously, there are going to be a few passes he will misplace but he’s a good passer and it gives you a good start.

‘Greg can see the game there and will be more consistent in that position than any other position he will ever play in.

‘That is 100 per cent my view.

‘He can pass both ways, you can play him on the right-hand side of defence and left side of defence and it doesn’t faze him.

‘He’s good but the only trouble is sometimes when he knows he’s good.

‘Sometimes he gets a bit clever and I do have to say to him “I don’t need you being clever tonight because if the centre forward is as clever as you, you might end up messing up”.

‘I think Greg has enjoyed it, you can tell. He has his off-days in training, like we all do, but he has been good and I’ve been pleased with him.’

Before his stint at Pompey, Halford had never been employed as a central defender.

That changed on his debut, when he came across from right-back to cover for the injured Ricardo Rocha in the first half of October’s trip to Millwall.

But it would be three months before he was given a regular run-out in that role.

Halford started against Leeds at centre-half in Jan-uary and saw out the remaining 21 matches there.

It also coincided with Pompey chalking up a post-war club record for minutes without conceding a goal in the league.

And Cotterill believes that should now be considered Halford’s best position.

He added: ‘It’s funny, after the first game he played I thought he had all the attributes of a centre-half.

‘But he hadn’t played there.

‘So I needed to watch a few more games and then I needed to wait for the opportunity of putting him in there.

‘You are thinking, can he defend?

‘Has he got a panoramic view around him?

‘Are people going to run off the back of him or is he going to know where they are?

‘Well, he’s got all that.

‘Greg has got better in the air and more aggressive as the season has gone on, which he needed to be.

‘He needed to play with his feet and not his Twitter comments.

‘We have started with a Marc Wilson and ended up with a Greg Halford, which isn’t too far away from the footballer I like.’