Awford not interested in tomorrow - today’s the day

Pompey caretaker boss Andy Awford Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey caretaker boss Andy Awford Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke has been named as skipper at Fleetwood tonight.

Clarke skippers youthful Pompey

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Tomorrow – well that’s a day away. Andy Awford’s primary focus is now.

Contracts ticking down, player recruitment required, his own future up in the air – they can all wait.

For Pompey’s caretaker boss, it is all about today and the objective of ensuring Pompey remain in the Football League.

He has certainly made in-roads into that challenging remit, with three successive victories lifting the Blues into 16th spot in League Two.

Another win against either Bristol Rovers or Northampton within the next seven days will effectively render them safe. Mission accomplished.

In the meantime, the deals of 16 players who have featured in the first team this season expire in the summer.

In addition, there’s four first-year professionals and a number of second-year Academy prospects whose contracts are also approaching an end.

Considering the scheduled duration of Awford’s caretaker role, there won’t be a permanent manager at the club until at least May 3, when the visit of Plymouth brings the curtain down on the campaign.

Amid it all, other clubs are already lining-up players to get a headstart in the competitive free-agent market.

Pompey, though, remain fixed on today.

Awford said: ‘Everything has got to go on hold and we have to sort now out.

‘Tomorrow can wait and will wait, the players understand that and know that. We have enough on our plates here this season to stay in the league, which we will, before sorting out next season.

‘Other things are for another day when we are safe and the club appoints a new, permanent manager – and I think that is the right thing to do.

‘In my opinion, the players have enough on their minds at the moment with keeping the club up. So if they are starting to think about next season at present then they are wrong.

‘They have got to sort this season out first – and once we have done that then I would think the club would look to appoint a manager as soon as possible, then peoples’ futures can be sorted out.

‘Whether I was the manager or Jose Mourinho, there’s no good promising or not promising contracts to these players at the moment because we don’t know what league we are going to be in, so your budget is going to change.

‘I know what league we are going to be in – we are going to be in League Two next season – but the people who run our football club won’t commit to that yet because it’s not mathematically done.

‘So let’s get that out of the way first and get it signed, sealed and delivered and then we can talk.

‘If we need to be talking to players about other stuff next season then that is not right for me, we have got to focus on now and make sure we solve now.’

Bondz N’Gala, Jed Wallace, Nicky Shorey, Adam Webster, Jake Jervis, Thery Racon and Ashley Harris are among those whose deals expire.

In addition, there are four loans up, including Trevor Carson.

Awford added: ‘We would get some criticism – and rightly so – from people if we started dishing out six-year contracts and we don’t know what league we are going to be in and don’t know who the manager is going to be.

‘It would be a bit foolish in my opinion. Let’s sort now out and once that is done then hopefully we can sort the rest out later.’