CARETAKER boss Andy Awford is bracing himself for a first-team farewell before parachuting back to the Academy.
But the former Blues defender has pledged he will remain available for duty for as long as required by the Pompey board.
Tonight’s visit of Wycombe marks the scheduled third and final outing in the hot seat for the Academy manager since taking over last month.
With interviews to replace Guy Whittingham having started yesterday, the club are closing in on an appointment to meet their ‘ideal’ target of Monday.
Awford has so far overseen a late 2-1 defeat to Southend at Fratton Park, followed by a goalless draw at Hartlepool.
The re-staged visit of the Chairboys tonight will end that spell and see him drop back to the Academy set-up he has overseen for almost four years.
It’s a fate he accepts – but the Pompey hero has no qualms with continuing with the first team until a permanent boss is crowned.
He said: ‘I think it will be my last game but if something goes wrong and they can’t get someone in before Newport County then I will do that.
‘There’s a gap from after Wycombe. It’s an ideal time to make an appointment.
‘But I have planned the week, the lads know when they are in right up until Newport so we have put things in place.
‘If the new manager comes in and changes it, it is fine. That’s his prerogative and rightly so. He can come in and do what he wants to do.
‘But I just felt it necessary for the lads to keep it as stable as possible to give such structure and organisation to know where they are at.
‘Monday for an appointment would be ideal – but it’s Portsmouth Football Club so he will probably come in Friday week!
‘Ideally, you would like him in ASAP so he can get to see the players as much as he can before the next game.
‘The more time he gets the more opportunity he gets to put his ideas across but you can’t change too much anyway.
‘Whoever comes in I wouldn’t have thought he would be looking to change 25 things.
‘I would imagine he would come in, look at things and go “right that needs addressing, we will look at that and try to build something”, which is what I’ve tried to do myself in the very small time I’ve had with the players.’
With it being FA Cup second-round day on Saturday, it leaves the Blues without a fixture.
Newport are scheduled to visit Fratton on Saturday, December 14, allowing the board more time to make their decision.
However, Mark Catlin is keen for the new man to have a full week with his squad in the build-up to that fixture and has pinpointed Monday as the ‘ideal’ day.