Eastwood rejects Pompey deal to join Blackburn
Simon Eastwood has made a shock 11th hour U-turn and snubbed the chance to remain at Pompey.
The keeper had long been expected at Fratton Park yesterday to pen an agreed three-year deal after impressing in his maiden Blues season.
However, he informed the club late on Monday night of a sudden change of heart and revealed he would instead be signing for Blackburn.
Guy Whittingham had earmarked Eastwood to be his number one in League Two next season after establishing himself this year.
Phil Smith had already signed on for one year as Pompey’s manager sought to keep his goalkeeping pool intact.
As recently as Monday afternoon, Eastwood – who had been mulling over the Blackburn offer – had agreed to put the seal on his Fratton stay yesterday, along with Dan Butler.
Sure enough, left-back Butler penned a two-year deal in the morning at Fratton.
Yet Eastwood instead opted for Rovers and to rival Paul Robinson and Jake Kean for the first-team.
It forces Whittingham to look elsewhere, having already believed to have secured his first choice.
The Blues boss said: ‘It’s disappointing because we had agreed a deal with Eastie and were just waiting for him to come back from holiday to sign everything.
‘But he had an offer from a Championship club and felt it was better for him, so we move on.
‘It has been on, off, on, off with him and now he has gone elsewhere. That’s the way it goes.
‘We have still got Phil (Smith), who I am happy with, and we are already looking for another goalkeeper.
‘When this came up with Eastie it was something that happened towards the end of last week, so we had already started to think about other options.
‘His girlfriend is expecting so I suppose that has come into it and while I am disappointed I am not going to have a pop at him.
‘Good luck to him. He’s a great lad and I hope he has made the right decision for his career.’
It is understood the influence of former goalkeeping coach John Keeley helped persuade the 23-year-old to make the Blackburn move.
Keeley, who quit Fratton Park in January, has remained at the Championship club despite the sacking of Michael Appleton, Ashley Westwood and Luke Dowling.
It was he who brought Eastwood to Fratton Park in the first place, initially on trial, in the summer of 2012.
The keeper had turned down a new deal at FC Halifax Town in a bid to return to league football.
Eastwood’s first four appearances were in four different competitions but once Mikkel Andersen’s loan spell ended he became first choice.
He went on to make 30 appearances and largely impressed as the campaign wore on but he now moves on to Blackburn.