Awford delight with sharp-shooter Westcarr

Craig Westcarr. Picture: Joe Pepler
Craig Westcarr. Picture: Joe Pepler
Anton Walkes. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey mull over permanent stay for loanee

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Pompey’s new pre-season sharp-shooter is ready to be unleashed on Fratton Park.

And Andy Awford admits he has been impressed by the contribution of his summer recruit.

Craig Westcarr has so far netted four times since his arrival from Walsall, comfortably outstripping his team-mates.

Largely operating in a role behind the main striker as part of an attacking three, the 29-year-old has made an instant impact.

He scored twice against the Hawks on his first Blues appearance during a 45-minute outing.

Westcarr also grabbed two against Thurrock in his third match for the club.

Such has been Awford’s rotation in the name of fitness, the forward has at this moment amassed only 176 minutes.

He will add to that tonight when Bournemouth are the visitors to Fratton Park (7.45pm).

But already the ex-Nottingham Forest apprentice has caught the eye.

Awford said: ‘Craig has looked sharp, picked up some great positions, he gets on the half turn and then arrives in the box.

‘He is looking very good at the moment and I am pleased for him.

‘We’ve seen already in the pre-season when Jed comes in and stays inside for a while then Westy goes and plays out, so there is flexibility about his play.

‘I don’t want it to be robotic, I don’t want us to be predictable. I want us to be fluent and I believe we are starting to see that.

‘Craig gets a bit frustrated sometimes when we don’t find him in those pockets of space.

‘But that will come.

‘That is down to the back players and midfield players to see him that little split second earlier and we will work with that.

‘He will be confident going into this season, though, which is a positive and down to the fact he has scored 16 goals last year.

‘You can see the confidence when he gets in front of goal, he thinks he is going to score, which is important for a striker.

‘Hopefully that will continue.’

Westcarr enjoyed his best-ever goal-scoring season for the Saddlers last year, netting 16 times.

Revelling at the Bescot Stadium in a similar 4-2-3-1 system employed by Awford, his regular role was as the centre forward.

Yet he has demonstrated his versatility throughout his career, proving he can line-up on either flank should the need arise.

But it is more central in that three where he has impressed the Blues at present, culminating in two goals against Thurrock.

Awford added: ‘For Craig’s first shot the keeper has made a bit of a meal of it and should have saved it.

‘But he has hit the target and if you don’t hit the target you won’t score goals.

‘The second goal was a great finish.

‘He drifted it into the far post and showed his quality there with the finish.

‘That’s four he has from pre-season now and hopefully he can add to that in the remaining matches.’