CHRISTCHURCH boss Graham Kemp will be pitting his managerial wits against a former England international tomorrow when Priory take on AFC Portchester at Hurn Bridge.

Making his debut in the visiting dugout will be ex-Arsenal winger Graham Rix, this week appointed Portchester’s new head coach.

The 55-year-old’s arrival coincides with the departure of Glenn Bridgman, Portchester’s manager for the last four years, who last season led them to promotion from Sydenhams One.

Rix will work closely with the Wicor Rec outfit’s director of football Mick Jenkins and coach/interim manager Louis Bell.

Titchfield-based Rix, capped 17 times for England, was assistant manager to Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli at Chelsea before going on to manage Portsmouth, Oxford United and Hearts.

He was at the Glenn Hoddle Academy for many years and was most recently involved with Trinidad & Tobago club Central FC, where he was boss until December.

“I know Graham reasonably well from his Portsmouth days as does our coach Louis Bell,” said Jenkins.

“We’re flattered that he came and had a look at Portchester and agreed to join us as head coach.

“We’re trying to build the club up and this is a statement of intent from us about where we want to go.

“It’s good for Portchester and good for the Wessex League to have someone of Graham’s stature involved.

“Graham doesn’t have a magic wand and there’s no quick fix, but this is the club’s first season in the Wessex Premier and it’s all about stability for now.

“But we will hopefully get Southern League ground grading this year and we want to work towards getting to the next level.

“Graham doesn’t want to be team manager because he doesn’t know the league, but his experience is phenomenal. He’s coached in the Premier League and abroad and will enjoy working with the players.”

Rix, who watched 12th-placed Portchester play Fareham last week, said: “I’m going in as a coach to help. I haven’t signed my life away, but want to help as much as I can. It’s good for me to get back in at grass roots level.”