ADAM WEBSTER’s Pompey future lies in the middle of defence.
But Andy Awford is keen to use the home-grown talent as a right-back over the remainder of the campaign.
Talks are already under way to keep the 19-year-old at Fratton Park, with his contract up in the summer.
Awford has made it clear he wants to keep hold of the England under-19 international and sees him as a key part of the club’s future.
Webster has made a sound return to the first-team fray, after injuring his knee against Northampton at the start of October.
Two assured displays have arrived in the full-back position as he shows his injury is behind him.
Danny East is returning to fitness and Joe Devera can operate at right-back.
But it’s Webster’s versatility which has also allowed Awford to free up space in his squad by sending loanees Alex Wynter and Matt Fish back to their parent clubs.
The Pompey boss feels the West Wittering teenager’s comfort on the ball makes him a useful option for the role – for now.
Awford said: ‘His future is at centre-half, definitely.
‘He does well at full-back. He is comfortable on the ball – that is one of his strengths, he has ability and passes it.
‘Eventually, I do think he will be a centre-half long-term, whoever he plays for.
‘But he can play at full-back and do very well.
‘He’s only 19. He played at 16 when a first-year apprentice.
‘He is 19 years old and still growing. Jack Whatmough is 18 and still growing, too.
‘Jack copes better with the physical stuff than Adam does as a centre-half.
‘Adam is that comfortable on the ball and his passing range is fantastic.
‘He can play at full-back. But I wouldn’t really want to play Jack at full-back.’
Awford explained Pompey have worked on Webster adding a steely edge to his game.
He feels there has been progress made on that front – but the youngster will need to continue on that front before going into the middle of the back line.
‘It’s a strength thing he needs to improve on,’ said Awford.
‘In this day and age, people are getting stronger and bigger and most teams at our level play quite direct with a big player.
‘In the reserve games we’ve played him at centre-half to give him that experience.
‘I know he plays for England which is a not-so-direct, continental style.
‘It is when it’s more direct and down his throat which we are working on. He is good at it – he just needs to get better at it. That will come.
‘We always say to him you can be as horrible as you like on the pitch and still be a nice bloke, that is what you want.
‘It’s not booting people but strength of character and aggression in your game. We’ll keep working with him and get him to the level we need.’