RYAN BIRD has been told to be honest about his injury recovery.
The striker is desperate to play a part in Pompey’s fight for League Two survival after returning from a loan stint at Cambridge United last month.
But a groin injury is hindering his Fratton Park progress and kept him out of the first team for the opening two games of Andy Awford’s tenure as Blues caretaker manager.
Bird was in scorching form for the Us, scoring nine goals in 11 starts for Richard Money’s side.
Awford knows the front man could be tempted to play with the injury with just five games remaining this season.
But he wants the 26-year-old to be up front with him about his condition when judging his ability to play.
Awford said: ‘We knew Ryan had a slight groin, but we didn’t know the extent of it until he got back.
‘We needed him back. I knew he’d be in a good frame of mind and he’s been great to have around.
‘He’s new to this game, though, and he has to be careful and be honest with the injury.
‘It’s hard not to be out there, but you have to be as close to fitness as possible.
‘If you are 60 or 70 -per-cent fit you have to say, so we can manage it.’
Meanwhile, Andy Barcham is still feeling his way back to fitness after being sidelined with a thigh injury.
Barcham has not featured for six weeks since coming off at half-time in the 5-1 thrashing at Scunthorpe in February.
Awford added: ‘Andy hasn’t trained yet and is still sidelined.
‘He’s been doing some work with the physios out on the training pitch.
‘But he’s not yet in the group, so he’ll be a little while yet.’