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Race for No1 spot hots up

Former Swindon keeper Phil Smith has been training with Pompey

Former Swindon keeper Phil Smith has been training with Pompey

 

Simon Eastwood looks sets to win the race to start in goal at Tranmere.

Pompey have invited former Swindon keeper Phil Smith to train with them, as they look to bolster their options between the sticks ahead of the trip to the League One leaders on Saturday.

But it’s Eastwood who looks in line to get the nod at Prenton Park.

Alex Cisak has returned to Oldham after the Latics invoked a 24-hour recall when Dean Bouzanis was sent off against Doncaster last week.

That leaves untried 16-year-old Academy prospect Connor O’Hara as the only other keeper to call on.

Pompey view it as too early to elevate the first-year scholar into the senior squad, however.

Smith was a new face at the club’s Eastleigh base yesterday, with the only option for recruitment being free agents after the Football League refused to give the Blues special dispensation to add another loan.

The 32-year-old Smith has been without a club since being released by Swindon in the summer after six years at the County Ground.

He made 132 appearances in that time after previously playing for Crawley.

Pompey will look to add a keeper for the trip to Tranmere – and Smith could be that man.

The alternative would be to risk not having a recognised keeper on the bench for the game.

Goalkeeping coach John Keeley will weigh up Smith over the next few days, but has faith in Eastwood to deliver when his chance arrives.

Keeley said: ‘It looks like Simon will probably play at the weekend.

‘We can’t bring in anyone other than a non-contract players or someone who is unattached.

‘Phil came in and trained with us yesterday after I invited him. He’s been honest enough to say he hasn’t been doing a lot since he was released by Swindon.

‘There are not a lot of keepers around at this stage who we can get.

‘It’s one of those situations that’s hurt us with Alex Cisak going back after five days.

‘But fair play to Eastie – he has worked hard and deserves his chance.

‘He is trying to improve himself.

‘He’s got a chance to prove himself and this is a busy month. The ball is in his court.

‘Phil has come in as well and did okay.

‘He’s got a good few games behind him and has experience.

‘He needs a bit of time to get fit, but we’ll have a look at him over the next few days and see how it goes.’

Meanwhile, former Barnsley winger Martin Devaney has left Pompey after a stint on trial.

Devaney, who is friends with captain Brian Howard from his time at Oakwell, had been training with the first team after his release from Tranmere in the summer.

 

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