Midfielder fee was good business

Andy Awford believes the club’s investment in Nigel Atangana will pay off.

Andy Awford is certain Nigel Atangana, right, will prove a sound investment. Picture: Joe Pepler
Andy Awford is certain Nigel Atangana, right, will prove a sound investment. Picture: Joe Pepler

The 25-year-old signed for Pompey from non-league neighbours Hawks in the summer for a fee believed to be in the region of £20,000.

It was significant as it was the first transfer fee the club had paid since Steve Cotterill’s reign back in 2011.

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But it looks increasingly good business, especially after his first goal for the club at the weekend.

Although he is still relatively new to the professional ranks, the Frenchman looks well capable of playing at League Two level and beyond.

And the Blues boss remains convinced the midfielder will prove even more valuable as he improves.

Awford said: ‘He’s a very good player and we will use him how we need to.

‘He’s an excellent footballer and has every chance of staying in the professional game and playing as high as he can.

‘We paid money for him and James Dunne and they’ve been good signings.

‘With Nigel we had to pay a small fee to have him.

‘We had to do that as he was under contract but I think he was well worth it.

‘He is probably worth more money now than when we signed him, so it is an investment for the football club as well.

‘It was a no-brainer.’

Awford used Atangana’s attacking attributes in a different role – just off lone striker Ryan Taylor – at Cheltenham on Saturday.

But the move paid off as he fired a stylish equaliser and the position seems to suit him well.

The Blues boss said: ‘It was a great finish and I thought he got through an awful lot of work.

‘He did the horrible side of the game as well as he has done it and that is a learning curve for him in my opinion.

‘He has ability, everybody can see that, that is why we took him in.

‘As you go up the levels you are playing against better players.

‘He needed to be shown and worked on to do the defensive side of the game that maybe he hasn’t had to do so much in the past.

‘He was a bit unsure of some of the roles he was expected to do.

‘But we played him a little bit loose and he was allowed to go and join in with Ryan Taylor, Lee Holmes and Jed Wallace.

‘We wanted that bit of quality from him and I’m really pleased for Nigel.

‘Earlier in the season, we were playing 3-5-2 with three midfield players and at Cheltenham he had two behind him.

‘At the start of the season we played James Dunne as a sitter with him and Danny Hollands in there.

‘But going to 4-4-2 you have got to be careful you are not too loose in the middle of the park. He needed to see it and needed to be shown it.’

Awford also insisted he always had Atangana pencilled in for a recall – before his impressive goalscoring display in the reserves.

He said: ‘I was always playing him. He needed to play on Tuesday and I knew the team before that reserve-team fixture.

‘Jack Whatmough, Jed Wallace and Joe Devera also needed to play to have those minutes in their legs.’