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Tuesday 21 August 2018

Stephen: no plans to leave Pompey

IRISH keeper Stephen Henderson has promised to stay loyal to cash-strapped Portsmouth despite the threat to the club's future.

Pompey have already lost their other Irish player as captain Liam Lawrence left to join Cardiff City on loan last week, though he was not able to make his debut in yesterday's Championship defeat to West Ham.

Lawrence left to try and help the club ease their problems by taking himself off the wage bill and the fact that one of Pompey's highest earners has left will aid their survival, while Cardiff also paid Portsmouth a fee to get hold of Lawrence.

There was also talk over the weekend of another defection as Dublin-born keeper Henderson was again linked with a move to Ipswich Town, but Henderson says he does not intend to walk away from the troubled club.

"I affirmed my commitment in January and I will stick to that. I am still in that mindset," said Henderson.

"The fans here, and the staff at the club, are worth doing that for. I would hate to just walk away from them," says Henderson.

"Until I am told otherwise, I am staying.

"Things are not good here financially and we don't know if we will be able to see out the season but I don't want to walk out on people now."

The 23-year-old was named as man of the match in some quarters, despite conceding three goals for Pompey in their 3-1 defeat at home to Middlesbrough on Saturday and he is highly rated, but the club cannot guarantee that Henderson will stay.

"You can't pick and choose which players go, unfortunately," said Pompey's administrator Trevor Birch.

"There may be other players who people would have an opinion on that should be going, but it doesn't work like that. There are discussions ongoing on other players.

"People are aware of our predicament so they are obviously going to make approaches and we've just got to deal with it."

Meanwhile, Henderson says that his call-up to the Irish squad for last week's friendly with the Czech Republic was a huge boost to his confidence.

The Pompey man was a late addition to the squad as a replacement for the injured Keiren Westwood, and the fact that Henderson was called on ahead of rival keepers like Darren Randolph (Motherwell) and Brian Murphy (QPR) is a sign that he's now in the thoughts of the Irish management.

"There has been a lot of crap to put up with at Portsmouth, nothing but bad news of late, so getting that call-up was a huge boost to my confidence and a chance to show what I am about," added Henderson.

"Just being in the panel is a big deal for me.

"It can be hard for a keeper to progress at international level. Once you are too old for the under-21s you can be left in limbo for a long time. I only left the U21s last season so to be in the senior squad so soon is a big deal. My aim is to be on that plane to Poland in June and I will do all I can to be there."

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