Stockford open to offers after Hawks exit

Former Pompey Academy player Lewis Stockford
Former Pompey Academy player Lewis Stockford
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Lewis Stockford holds no Hawks regrets after parting company with the Blue Square Bet South club.

The former Pompey Academy player only joined the Westleigh Park outfit this summer after being told his 11-year stay at Fratton Park was at an end by Michael Appleton,

But with the new season just days away, and the 19-year-old failing to establish himself in Stuart Ritchie’s Hawks ranks during pre-season, the decision was taken to mutally terminate his contract.

His sudden departure is the latest in a string of setbacks for the talent, who spent most of last season on loan at Salisbury City and AFC Totton before his Pompey release.

However, Stockford feels it was the right decision at a crucial stage of his playing career, with regular first-team football needed if he is to rejoin the game’s professional ranks.

‘I left by mutual agreement because I wasn’t getting a lot of pre-season games,’ said Stockford.

‘It is a big shame because I was hoping things would work out there.

‘Last season was a nightmare.

‘I spent most of the time sitting around on the bench. I don’t want that to happen again because it knocked my confidence.

‘My main priority is to be out on the pitch enjoying playing football again.

‘There was no point in staying with the Hawks if that wasn’t going to happen.’

Hawks boss Ritchie admitted Stockford was unlikely to figure in his plans and needed to get out and find regular football.

That theory was reinforced with the arrival of experienced midfielder Stefan Bailey last week, which pushed Stockford further down the pecking order.

And even though the new season kicks off in earnest this Saturday, Stockford is determined not to be rushed into making any wrong decisions.

‘I am keeping my options open, though I realise things need to happen fairly quickly,’ said Stockford.

‘There are a few things in the pipeline and I know that I need to find the right club and get settled in.

‘Although the Hawks didn’t work out, it is not like I have missed out.

‘A good thing to come out of it is my fitness and now I am ready to go out and get established with another club.

‘I am ready to start again fresh but it has to be with the right club for me.’

Fellow Hawks midfielder Bobby Hopkinson has also been released by the club.

But Ritchie has indicated more could follow, with at least three or four players likely to be heading for the Westleigh Park exit – either on a permanent or loan basis.

The new-look Hawks open their Blue Square Bet South campaign against much-fancied Chelmsford City at Westleigh Park on Saturday. (kick-off 3pm)