Nigel Atangana is determined to deliver a message to Andy Awford – and show he is ready to feature regularly in his first team.
The French midfielder was a surprise selection in Pompey’s side for yesterday’s 2-2 draw at Carlisle.
Following five matches as an unused substitute, the former Hawks ace was recalled to start alongside James Dunne as the two holding midfielders in return of a 4-2-3-1 formation.
It was a strong display from the 25-year-old, who impressed in the heartbreaking stalemate as the Blues ultimately had to settle for a share of the spoils at Brunton Park.
Charlie Wyke’s leveller five minutes into stoppage-time was cruel on the visitors, who had been leading thanks to first-half strikes from Jed Wallace and Matt Tubbs.
Nonetheless, plenty emerged with credit, in particular Atangana, who made only his third start in Pompey’s past 14 matches.
When I play it is with a message for the gaffer to say: “I am ready to play”Nigel Atangana
And with Plymouth visiting Fratton Park on Monday, he is hoping to stay there.
‘It’s difficult to talk about me, I don’t want to judge myself, but I try to do my best when I play for the team and am always ready,’ said Atangana.
‘Sometimes it is not easy to play for 90 minutes when you don’t play matches back-to-back and I found the last 10 minutes difficult, but I gave my all for the club and the fans.
‘When I play it is with a message for the gaffer to say: “I am ready to play”.
‘I feel good, I’m a professional player who wants to play every game. I know that’s my first year and I need to learn but I think I am ready.
‘I have had to be patient and I am working hard in training. I have to show every day I am ready to play.
‘I had a shot first half, I am working on the volley in training and, unfortunately, I missed the target – not by much though!
‘Along with some other lads, I stay behind after training. I try to stay fit, go down the gym, putting in extra work so I can stay fit to help my chances of getting into the side.
‘I am still improving but I want to play a lot better. That is not easy because I play sometimes one or two games, then I don’t play for four or five, then I play again and that is not easy.
‘But, hopefully, I can prove I should be in the side.’
With only two previous away victories in the league all season, it appeared Awford’s men were heading for a third.
It would have been a deserved outcome for a side containing four changes – among them Atangana for the benched Danny Hollands.
The result leaves the Blues 14th in the League Two table, still 11 points adrift of the play-offs and 11 above of the relegation zone.
But they deserve credit for the manner of their Brunton Park performance, regardless of the result secured in such late circumstances.
Atangana added: ‘I was gutted, very disappointed about the result.
‘When you play 90 minutes you try to manage the game to cover the result and when we concede a goal in the last minute that is very difficult to accept.
‘Sometimes things like that happen in football so if you have a chance to kill the game before that point then you have to. I felt three or four times we had that opportunity.
‘We were comfortable apart from the first 15 minutes of the game and have been very unlucky. We played very well.
‘They scored very early, it’s not easy after letting one in after 88 seconds.
‘Jed Wallace scored a worldie and got us back in it, and we showed a great reaction.’
– NEIL ALLEN