Midfielder told he can leave Pompey

Nigel Atangana. Picture: Joe Pepler
Nigel Atangana. Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin and Brett Pitman. Picture: Shaun Boggust

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NIGEL ATANGANA has been told he can leave Pompey to kickstart his career.

The Blues are looking to reduce their overall squad numbers this month.

The manager doesn’t want to stand in the way of people to play football,

Leam Richardson

And Atangana is one of those who’s free to leave Fratton Park as Paul Cook continues to shape his options.

Cook has spoken to the Frenchman about his future, with the midfielder finding playing time increasingly hard to come by.

It’s been more than six weeks since Atangana featured with a 15-minute cameo in the November’s 2-2 draw at Carlisle.

He last started a game at Oxford in September after featuring regularly for the Blues at the start of the campaign.

Assistant manager Leam Richardson feels a move away from the club will help the 26-year-old find the minutes he is not currently picking up at Pompey.

He said: ‘The manager doesn’t want to stand in the way of people to play football, especially young lads.

‘Nigel’s now gone six weeks to two months without playing a game.

‘We don’t want to stifle them.

‘The easiest thing is to keep a big squad together but we don’t think it’s fair.

‘I don’t think it’s fair for the lads’ careers.

‘If you can help kickstart their careers and get some games, I think we should.

‘Nigel is certainly a player who falls into that category.

‘We have always wanted a smaller working number.

‘We have always had that before and been quite successful with it.

‘To get a good dressing room, going for quality rather than quantity is the way to go.

‘It’s the way to go in any industry and, in this case, with a football team.’

Cook currently has a first-team squad of 26 players to work with as Pompey aim to power their way to promotion over the second half of the League Two campaign.

That figure includes James Dunne and Kal Naismith, who have returned from loan spells at Dagenham & Redbridge and Hartlepool, respectively.

Meanwhile, Jack Whatmough is regaining match fitness at the Hawks after nine months out with a knee injury.

Matt Tubbs is fit after an ankle injury.

But the striker finds his path to the first team blocked by Caolan Lavery and Marc McNulty.

Richardson praised the striker’s professionalism but knows he needs to play.

He said: ‘Tubbsy’s a different class. He’s a good pro. You can’t argue with his goal ratio.

‘He could find his way into the team in a blink of an eye.

‘Going forward though, again, Tubbsy’s at an age where he wants to play.

‘That is something we will never stand in the way of.

‘It’s only fair. We know how good they are.

‘Tubbsy is 30-plus and has a certain amount of years left. He wants to play.’