Race is on to be Pompey No1

Jamie Ashdown. Picture: Barry Zee
Jamie Ashdown. Picture: Barry Zee
Pompey's Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

Evans: Player talk has lifted Pompey form

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Steve Cotterill has warned it is ‘nip and tuck’ in the battle to be Pompey No1.

Stephen Henderson arrived from Bristol City this summer eyeing a first-team spot.

First, though, he has to dislodge Jamie Ashdown, who impressed tremendously as an ever-present last term.

It promises to be a tough call for Cotterill, who finally has the competition in the goalkeeping area he craved.

The duo have so far shared a half each in the opening three friendlies of pre-season.

Matches against Charleston Battery (Wednesday) and Real Betis (Saturday) remain before the season opener at Middlesbrough (August 6).

Pompey’s manager insists he has still to make up his mind over the identity of his first choice.

And he has urged both to take their chance to grab it during the remaining pre-season programme.

He said: ‘We have good competition in the goalkeeping spots.

‘One of them will be upset come the start of the season but I would certainly not mind that.

‘Nothing personal with any of them, it will be just who I get a gut feeling for closer to the time.

‘We are just having a look at it now and will wait and see.

‘I’m not any clearer at this moment in time in my head. I think it’s nip and tuck.

‘Jamie has been number one here and it is up for Stephen to take that challenge on and try to make it his.

‘Let’s not forget, Jamie has done very well here for 12 months.

‘He had a couple of dodgy games last year but, to be fair, it was a 50-game season for him and we are really pleased with how he did and that shouldn’t be ignored.

‘We don’t want all the glamour to go to Stephen because he is the new kid on the block.

‘When you first go through the door at a club, normally you would find the new guy excels anyway.

‘It is really where Stephen is going to be in two or three months’ time. We need to wait and see how it materialises. It’s a long season.’

Henderson arrived at Fratton Park having made 33 appearances while on loan with Yeovil last season.

In the process he scooped four end-of-season awards.

So far he has been sharing duties with Ashdown in each of Pompey’s friendlies but that may change in the remaining two matches.

Cotterill added: ‘We have given them a half each in the games and think maybe soon we’ll give them a game each and see how they do.

‘I may even carry on going with halves because the opposition we have got are going to throw up different challenges.

‘There are going to be some games in which, like against Havant, we could be the better team.

‘Or Chelsea where there is more pressure on your goalie than anything else.

‘I don’t know yet.’