Pompey tinkerman takes a rest

Pompey boss Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler
Former Pompey player Eoin Hand, right

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Andy Awford insists there will be no FA Cup tinkering this weekend.

The Blues boss shuffled the selection pack early on in the season to cope with the glut of cup fixtures.

But Awford has no plans to rest any of his regular first-teamers and will pick his strongest side for the encounter with non-league Aldershot.

Loan signings Paul Robinson, Alex Wynter and Miles Storey have all been cleared to play by their parent clubs, while Ben Chorley has shaken off the stomach bug that kept him out last week.

‘I won’t be mixing it up – no chance,’ said Awford.

‘It will be the strongest team I can pick.

‘It won’t be fringe players or anyone playing because they need a game.

‘People will play who deserve to play.

‘It’s very important for us and it will be treated as if it were a League Two game.’

Although Pompey have fallen at the first hurdle for each of the past four seasons, there is no lack of motivation for Awford or the players.

He said: ‘The FA Cup is the main cup competition.

‘It still has the magic feeling about it, we’re at home and we’ve got a great opportunity to progress to the second round.

‘Who knows where it can lead?

‘We will be all guns blazing trying to get the right result.

‘We are certainly not looking at it as though we are playing a non-league club. Preparation is no different.

‘It’s exactly the same mentality as it was for the Carlisle game and it will be for the Plymouth game next weekend.

‘But it should be a good crowd and against local opposition, so we’re all looking forward to it massively.’

Pompey are in decent form – with a new approach yielding two wins out of three.

And Awford is keen to see the confidence in the camp continue to grow with another positive display with his team encouraged to play with attacking freedom again.

He said: ‘We’ve simplified it but I’ve never said to them “you can’t do this and you can’t do that”.

‘Once we are in that final third, the shackles are off anyway.

‘But when you get that bit of confidence, it’s easier to run forward and take a few risks. If we can produce the levels that we have shown over the past three games, we will be fine – I have no doubt about that.

‘But that is the challenge for the players: to find that consistency again and continue it.

‘Confidence is a massive thing in football.

‘But I think we are becoming a very good team at home, so we are confident we can get the job done.’

– STEVE WILSON