Pompey move came out of the blue for Keene

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It was supposed to be a trip back to England to spend Christmas with the family and catch up with old friends.

Instead James Keene has found himself a new football club.

Life has come full circle for the striker who left Pompey for Sweden back in 2007 after Harry Redknapp shattered his dreams.

Having impressed during an earlier loan spell with GAIS, Keene settled down in Scandinavia permanently, joining Elfsborg where he is still contracted.

The 27-year-old’s voice these days has a Swedish tinge, certainly not reflecting his Somerset roots and six years spent on Pompey’s books.

Still, with the Swedish season ending in November, bringing a loan spell at Djurgardens to a close, Keene left Stockholm and journeyed back to his family in Wells.

Armed with his suitcase and accompanied by his Swedish girlfriend, it was meant to be a month-long stay, with return flights booked last Sunday.

Then came a text from former reserve boss Andy Awford inviting him to train.

Now the player, who started out at Fratton Park as a 14-year-old, is back and in the frame for tomorrow’s visit of Notts County.

And it is a switch he admits caught him by surprise.

He said: ‘The Swedish season lasts from April to November so last month I came back to see my family for Christmas. I had just landed when I got a text and didn’t know the number.

‘It turned out it was from Andy Awford. He was my reserve-team coach at Pompey all those years ago and asked what I was doing at Christmas.

‘He offered me the chance to come down to the club, train, keep myself fit and see what was going on.

‘I only had one suitcase with me but did have my boots. I always carry them, just in case – as me and my mates in Wells do have a kick around in the park every now and again.

‘I didn’t really expect it so thought “why not?” – and ended up training with Pompey for a while.

‘Things have gone well and now I’ve signed for a month.

‘It’s all quite strange how it has happened really.

‘I was only meant to be in England until last Sunday. I’m still living out of my one suitcase, I haven’t even had chance to go back to Stockholm.

‘I’ve not got a car – although I have borrowed a mate’s until today – and my girlfriend is still here with me.

‘Our presents are still under the tree at her parents in Sweden. Well the tree has been taken down now but the presents are still there!

‘It’s a great feeling being back at Pompey, though. Hopefully I can do well.’

During his time away from Fratton, Keene has also spent a loan spell at Norwegian club Fredrikstad FK.

And he admits a return to England was not on his mind yet.

He added: ‘I was not desperate to come back. I love the lifestyle in Sweden, it’s a great place to live.

‘I’ve always had thoughts of coming back one day but I wasn’t desperate to come back and play now in England.

‘There was a plan to come back at some point – but this was a bit unexpected.’