Awford: Jed can only get better

Jed Wallace. Picture: Joe Pepler
Jed Wallace. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey striker Conor Chaplin struggles to hide his disappointment

Southend 3-1 Pompey: They said what?

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Pompey fans have been told: There’s more to come from Jed Wallace.

Andy Awford praised the midfielder’s promising start to the campaign – but feels there are even better displays from him on the horizon.

The Blues boss, however, is realistic enough to know he still could have a job keeping the player at Fratton Park.

Wallace has shown decent form this season as he’s helped himself to four goals so far, although he was quieter at Burton Albion on Sunday.

Awford believes the 20-year-old has benefited from the experiences of a tumultuous League Two campaign last term.

And that will be seen in his form over the coming months.

‘Jed has been fantastic,’ said Awford.

‘He has played in two or three different positions and scored four goals. It’s a good start from him.

‘Jed’s been everything I’ve wanted him to be. I’ve been pleased with him.

‘There’s more to come from him, too.

‘His energy levels are there for all to see. It’s a major strength of his, but he has added goals to his game, too.

‘He’s had another season of learning. There was second-season syndrome a bit, when he got tired and it was mentally straining for him.

‘But he’s a season further on now and a season more experienced.

‘He’s still young – just 20 – and the future’s bright for him. We want it to be bright here, because we’ve signed him for three years.

‘He’s been great and I’ve been pleased with him.’

Wallace put an end to constant speculation over his future by inking a new three-year deal in the summer.

That showed his commitment to Pompey, but Awford knows all of his players have a price with the club in League Two.

He believes Wallace can achieve success at Fratton Park, though.

Awford said: ‘I don’t care if you are Ryan Giggs or Jed Wallace, the talk will get to you – but now he’s settled.

‘All of last season he didn’t know where he was going to be playing his football.

‘If a “proper” bid had come in for him he would have been gone.

‘But he signed his contract and he’s part of the long-term plan.

‘He could certainly play a league higher at the moment. Could he go into a Championship team? Probably.

‘What I wouldn’t want him to do is go to a club and not play.

‘The way Jed is and his character is, he needs to be playing competitive football.

‘If at some point over the next three years the right bid came in, he would go.

‘But I’d talk to him as a friend as much as a manager and tell him be careful of losing that opportunity.

‘I’ve got my idea of what he’s worth, but hopefully it won’t come to that.

‘Hopefully we can have a really good season and he can fulfil his ambitions here.’