POMPEY’S players waiting in the wings have been told: Be patient.
Andy Awford believes he is going to need men currently sitting on the bench and in the stand over the campaign’s run-in.
A settled formula has been a key factor in his team’s upturn in results over the past six games.
That means the likes of Nicky Shorey, Craig Westcarr, Ben Chorley and Adam Webster have had their playing time restricted.
Awford admitted it’s inevitable his decisions aren’t going to be well received by all – but he wants those men ready to go when called upon.
He said: ‘The only thing I’ve ever tried to do is make sure there is respect.
‘The players aren’t going to like you all the time – it’s the same in any job. As long as they respect decisions that’s the important thing. You have to be honest with people.
‘I can only pick 11 players and seven on the bench. I have 26 players, so you’ll have players who aren’t happy.
‘They aren’t in the team or on the bench but that’s what you have a squad for.
‘The lads know it – they have been in the game long enough to know a few will be upset every week.
‘But it’s how you react to that and, to be fair, they have all come in and got on with it.
‘You have to talk to people and that’s how you get the best out of them.
‘I can’t say they are definitely going to play – that would be lying or guessing.
‘But they are training well and they have to be ready to come in when required.’
Although Awford would listen to loan offers for some of his players, he’s not looking to shift many of those not featuring at present.
Players making an impact outside of the starting 11 was seen as Westcarr came off the bench and sparked the comeback against Tranmere on Tuesday night.
The unchanged team for the past six games will be shuffled against Oxford United on Saturday with James Dunne serving a two-game ban after picking up 10 yellow cards.
His absence will create an opportunity for someone to stake their claim.
Awford said: ‘There are a few that if clubs wanted to come in and take them on loan we would consider it. But with the games we have coming up now, in March and at Easter, you are going to need all of your squad.
‘So we’ve got that squad for a reason. We aren’t going to give good players away.
‘Dealing with that is the job of managing a squad. Jose Mourinho has a 25-man squad to manage.
‘Wycombe had success at the start of the season with a settled side.
‘I read John Terry comparing (Peter) Cech to (Thibaut) Courtois. He said it’s all about the team.
‘The lads who haven’t played in the last few games have to be ready for when they are called upon.
‘If there is a change needed they have to be ready to go.’