ANDY AWFORD believes Wes Fogden’s return can kick-start Pompey.
But the Blues boss has called for patience with the midfielder as he completes his comeback from a serious knee injury.
News the attacking midfielder is pencilled in for an outing in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Woking on Monday has been given a rapturous reception by supporters.
It’s a landmark moment for Fogden after damaging his knee ligaments in training last July.
The 26-year-old was a key man in Pompey’s run to safety at the end of last season.
Awford admitted his absence has been a blow and has already stated he’s hoping he can be back in first-team contention by the end of the month.
He stressed the arrival from Bournemouth still has to be treated with kid gloves, though.
Awford said: ‘Foggy’s been a massive miss.
‘At the end of last season he was very important.
‘He’s infectious and rubs off on other players and gives you a lift.
‘It’s his enthusiasm. David Beckham led by example with the way he plays and Foggy’s the same.
‘He does what he does. He only knows one way to play.
‘Even in training he’s the same. It’s great to have him back.
‘His running levels are what does it.
‘He buzzes around the pitch and does the horrible side very well.
‘We’ve missed his infectiousness.
‘I’ve been there and when you can see the finishing line it’s good.
‘Now it’s about him not doing anything stupid.
‘I’ve said that and we’ve had that conversation.
‘He can’t go crazy or silly but I know he’s the type of lad who won’t.
‘He’ll finish his rehab, be available and he’ll be like a new signing.’
Pompey fans are today set to get their first sight of Fogden kicking a ball since his injury, as he joins his team-mates for the warm-up against Hartlepool.
The plan is to then get first-half minutes under his belt on Monday.
Awford explained his rehab will be an ongoing process for Fogden.
Awford said: ‘He will play competitive football for the first time in seven months.
‘I listen to the physios. He needs the two weeks of training and then can go into a match.
‘Then the amount of minutes will step up over a couple of weeks. Then when he’s ready, he’s ready.
‘He’ll still have to do the rehab and prehab.
‘But Foggy will have to do work on his knee like brushing his teeth.
‘It will be part of his daily routine.
‘The hard thing then is the next stage in three or four weeks. He’ll be deemed fit but has to keep up what he’s doing.’