Cotterill relishing fit-again Lawrence impact

Liam Lawrence, right, and boss Steve Cotterill
Liam Lawrence, right, and boss Steve Cotterill
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Pompey midfielder Stuart O'Keefe. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Steve Cotterill is relishing unleashing fit-again Liam Lawrence on the Championship for the remainder of the campaign.

It has been a frustrating stop-start first season for the Republic of Ireland international at Fratton Park.

After an explosive entrance into the Pompey side, he has been hampered by injury problems since February.

Lawrence has started just three of the Blues’ past 11 matches, with calf and hamstring complaints sidelining him.

But he was back in the side at Cardiff last weekend, donning the captain’s armband once again in the 3-0 defeat.

Next up is the visit of Swansea – one of four remaining matches for the Blues.

And Cotterill is itching to utilise the influential 29-year-old on a more regular basis.

‘Liam is back and he’s a top player,’ said Cotterill.

‘He can play in big games and when he is back to fitness he is one that will always be on your teamsheet.

‘You see the reception he gets at our place. He’s only got to go over and take a corner and the ground erupts.

‘That’s how well he has done down here.

‘So to have him back, fit and strong is a right boost for us.

‘Not only is he a top player but he’s a top lad as well. He really gives to everyone else and I love that.

‘I don’t like selfish people and fortunately we haven’t got any of them.

‘He is so infectious, he trains his socks off and every game means everything to him. Every cross he puts in during training means everything to him.

‘That’s why he’s an international and why he was on the pitch the other week up against (Uruguay’s) Diego Forlan.

‘He’s on the pitch with them because he’s a very good player.’

Lawrence has made 31 appearances for Pompey so far, scoring eight goals.

It has been an impressive return from the midfielder, who joined from Stoke in September.

He arrived along with former Potters team-mate Dave Kitson in a swap deal involving Marc Wilson and a £1.5m payment into the Fratton Park coffers.

It’s fair to say the pair have had a massive impact on Pompey’s season.

Kitson has scored eight goals in his 36 appearances.

Importantly, the duo are two of only nine players contracted beyond this season.

And Cotterill has been del-ighted with his purchase of the former Sunderland man.

He added: ‘I knew what Liam was like.

‘I definitely wanted to know the ins and outs of his character before I put him into the dressing room.

‘Liam’s an energiser. You can have people walking around with long faces, arms down on the floor and hunched back but he’s not like that.

‘He’s just an infectious character.

‘He epitomises everything here. He’s a very sociable lad.

‘Quite a lot of footballers cocoon themselves.

‘Liam doesn’t do that, he goes the other way.’