Halford regrets exit of ‘player of the season’

Stephen Henderson is set to finalise his move to West Ham
Stephen Henderson is set to finalise his move to West Ham
Pompey's Brett Pitman scores a penalty in the Blues' 1-1 draw against Walsall at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

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Greg Halford believes Pompey have been deprived of their player of the season following the exit of Stephen Henderson.

The 24-year-old Irish keeper was today set to complete a loan switch to West Ham with a view to a permanent deal this summer.

Henderson follows Erik Huseklepp and Liam Lawrence out of the door as administrator Trevor Birch attempts to bring in crucial revenue.

Henderson made a massive impact following his summer arrival from Bristol City.

He had established himself as the Blues’ number one after dislodging Jamie Ashdown at the start of October.

The keeper, who was keen to stay at Pompey, went on to win plenty of admirers during his subsequent 27 appearances.

Up to five clubs were keen to secure his services during the current emergency loan window – yet the promotion-hunting Hammers were set to win the chase today.

And Halford is convinced his team-mate’s departure is a big blow.

He said: ‘We knew about Hendo on Friday and it is hard to take, to be honest.

‘He has been brilliant for us this season.

‘Jamie (Ashdown) came in against Brighton and, to be honest, did really well.

‘But it is a blow to lose Hendo.

‘I would probably put him in the category of our player of the season, so to lose a player of that calibre and lose his consistency throughout the season is tough to take.

‘You have to get on with it. We have had to deal with a number of players going. Losing your captain (Lawrence) is massive also.

‘Before Hendo left, two influential players on the pitch and off the pitch had gone, but that is football and you do have to get on with it.

‘Hayden (Mullins) could be going also, although I don’t know the full details of that at the minute. We will have to wait and see.

‘Now there is the chance to bring in another couple of players.

‘But Hendo would definitely be up there as my player of the season.’

Ashdown himself won several Pompey accolades last season. That was in recognition of an outstanding campaign for the ex-Reading man, who appeared in all 50 of Pompey’s matches.

He was recalled to the side against Brighton on Saturday as Henderson attempted to finalise his West Ham move.

Ashdown marked his return with a man-of-the-match display in the 2-0 defeat.

And, despite Henderson’s departure, Halford is convinced the club remains in safe hands with Ashdown restored to the side.

He added: ‘We know what Jamie is capable of doing.

‘I remember clearly the first game I came into, which was Watford at home last year, and he was unbelievable.

‘He made this double save in the first half which was outrageous. Premier League goalkeepers would struggle to do that.

‘It is always going to be a blow to lose your number-one keeper – but we have a very capable keeper in Jamie.’