Fans’ favourite has no regrets over Pompey move

Liam Lawrence made a welcome return against Middlesbrough on Saturday
Liam Lawrence made a welcome return against Middlesbrough on Saturday
Pompey striker Conor Chaplin struggles to hide his disappointment

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Liam Lawrence says he has no regrets about joining Pompey after seeing a glimpse of what the future could hold.

The Blues midfielder returned to action as a substitute in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough after a three-week lay-off with a calf strain.

But despite joining the club with ambitions for promotion back to the Premier League, Pompey’s faint hopes of a play-off place are fading fast after the stalemate left them nine points adrift of sixth spot with just nine games of the campaign remaining.

While Lawrence has not yet written off this season, he believes there is genuine cause for optimism at Fratton Park and maintains he is more than happy with his decision to head south from Stoke City last August.

He said: ‘I love it here. I’ve got my family here, I’m settled in the area and I love playing here.

‘I knew it was going to be tough when I joined – I knew that. It was one of the biggest decisions of my life coming here.

‘I could easily have stayed at Stoke and been in and out of the team and waited for chances, played, then not played and just sat there.

‘But I wanted a new challenge. And this was definitely a new challenge!

‘I’m just glad things have turned around now.

‘It was nearly a full house again for the Middlesbrough game and we are only mid-table.

‘Imagine if we do well, if we do make the play-offs or if we make it next year – this place will be bouncing.’

Pompey’s hopes of mounting a genuine assault on the play-offs were dealt a serious blow when the club failed to land any new permanent signings in January.

But Lawrence is already looking towards the summer and what will be another period of rebuilding for boss Steve Cotterill.

Republic of Ireland international Lawrence is hopeful the manager will be given the funds to make a concerted effort for promotion next term if it doesn’t materialise this season.

He said: ‘We all want to get promoted.

‘That’s our aim and when I came here, that was my aim.

‘But it has been that much of a tough season and that many obstacles put in the way. The lads have finished with an unbelievable run.

‘We’ve just got to carry it on these next couple of weeks and if we do anything better than we are now, then it’ll be a great achievement.

‘We’ve got a lot of loan players and it’ll be good to keep a couple of them if we can.

‘It will be a test for the manager and the chairman in the summer to see what they can do. There’s a lack of bodies here, but if the gaffer gets a bit of coin in the summer we can really push on.’

Pompey have now effectively secured their Championship safety as they sit 17 points clear of the drop zone.

And Lawrence knows the Blues now need a remarkable late run of results to stand any chance of a play-off place.

He said: ‘We need to win a lot of games now to make that a reality. But if we beat Leicester this weekend, we’ve still got a great chance because there are a few teams who are still dropping points.’