Pompey coach set for more playing time

Pompey first-team coach Ashley Westwood
Pompey first-team coach Ashley Westwood
Michael Smith has not been included in this year's team photo

Striker omitted from Pompey team photo

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POMPEY boss Michael Appleton is weighing up giving Ashley Westwood more pre-season pitch time.

The Blues’ first-team coach played the second half in the 5-1 defeat to Brighton on Tuesday night.

Replacing Sam Magri, it was the 35-year-old’s first Pompey appearance since joining the club to be a member of Appleton’s backroom staff.

However, with the Blues light on central defenders at present, the former Manchester United trainee offered an important alternative.

Westwood had initially signed up to be a player/coach at non-league outfit Lincoln this season before switching to Fratton Park.

And Pompey’s boss admitted he may consider the former Bradford and Sheffield Wednesday defender for more appearances in the friendlies against Aldershot (August 1) and AFC Wimbledon (August 8).

Appleton said: ‘To be fair, Ash was probably our best centre half against Brighton.

‘We have two really young centre halves (Sam Magri and Adam Webster) who are fit and strong but it shows what a little bit of experience does because he was in the right areas at the right time and used the ball wisely.

‘That’s a lad who has played more than 500 league games.

‘He doesn’t really want to play but I felt I had to bring him on at half-time because, obviously, the young lads were getting a bit of an education.

‘He might have to play again. When we go to Aldershot and Wimbledon, if we haven’t got sufficient players in, then he might have to play a few more minutes.’

Appleton is under no illusions he desperately needs to bring in some experience in the centre-half areas.

As it stands, teenagers Magri and Webster are the only defenders for that position on the club’s books.

The only alternative is Greg Halford, who Pompey are looking to move on to bring down their wage bill.

And the Blues boss admitted he is on the look-out to strengthen.

Appleton added: ‘I have people in mind, believe me. It’s about whether they are patient and prepared to wait to come here.

‘What you want is a couple of solid central defenders, people who are going to be reliable and, when the ball comes into our box, trust them to get on the end of it and defend.

‘I also want to get them into the opposition box where they can be a threat. I definitely have targets.’