Guy predicts Bird booster

Ryan Bird scores Pompey's equaliser against Torquay after coming off the bench at Plainmoor  Picture: Joe Pepler
Ryan Bird scores Pompey's equaliser against Torquay after coming off the bench at Plainmoor Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey defender Nathan Thompson

Thompson: Big-match occasions are what drew me to Pompey

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Guy Whittingham believes Ryan Bird has now proved to himself that he can make the grade at Pompey.

The rookie striker grabbed his first goal for the club with the equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Torquay having found it hard to make the step-up to full-time ranks.

Having plied his trade at Burnham last term, it was a serious gap to bridge and has taken time.

But after seeing the 25-year-old poke home his maiden Football League goal, the Blues boss is hopeful it will act as a major confidence-booster for the striker.

Whittingham said: He is just one of those guys who needed his first goal and I’m delighted for him.

‘It’s that extra bit of proof he probably needed and wanted to go on and score more goals for the club.

‘He is just one of those guys who can’t wait to play.

‘He is enthusiastic and gives everything for you.

‘He is off the mark now and I’m sure he will keep pressing for his first league start now.

‘I don’t think he needed to prove that he belonged at this level to his team-mates.

‘Ryan is accepted for the type of person he is.

‘It was good delivery from Jed Wallace for the goal.

‘Ryan got himself in there well and got on the end of it.

‘If you get decent delivery into dangerous areas, you always have a chance.

‘But strikers have to be there to put them away.’

It seems that Whittingham also sees parallels with his own playing career having joined Pompey out of the army, while he was turning out for Yeovil Town - then a non-league outfit.

Having joined the club in 1989, Whittingham scored his first goal for the club as a substitute in only his second appearance in a 2-2 draw with Hull and went on to have an excellent career playing for the likes of Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday in the Premier League.

But he recalled how his own confidence soared after netting his maiden strike in the professional ranks.

He said: ‘I know what it’s like to step up from non-league football to get your first goal.

‘It doesn’t half give you a lot of confidence. You have that extra spring in your step and I think we saw that with Ryan after he’d scored.

‘You have that extra bit of belief that you can go on and get more goals.

‘I can still remember my first league goal at home to Hull - just about!

‘I had scored at every level I played at but there is a bit more attached to it when you do it in the Football League.’

After a spell on loan at Hawks, it’s taken Bird until his seventh appearance for the club to get off the mark.

But Whittingham is hopeful there is now plenty more to come.

He said: ‘Any striker thrives on scoring goals.

‘The longer it goes on, the harder it becomes but now Ryan is off the mark, I’m sure he’ll go on from here.’