PAUL COOK called on Pompey fans to back their boys tonight.
Hopes are high of a decent crowd to cheer the Blues’ under-18s on against Newcastle in the FA Youth Cup (7pm).
It’s an exciting third-round clash for Mikey Harris’ side as they go up against the Premier League outfit.
Newcastle sit sixth in the Group A table and hold Category One status.
They beat Wolves under-18s last time out and have wins over the likes of Everton, Sunderland and Middlesbrough under their belt this term.
That’s a measure of the test which lies in wait for Harris’ side.
Pompey have dispatched Metropolitan Police and Eastleigh to reach this stage, however.
And they will be in bullish mood with those successes part of a six-game winning run going into the clash.
It promises to be a big night for the players involved and Cook is hopeful supporters will turn out in their numbers to cheer the side on.
He feels the match and occasion is reward for all of those surrounding Pompey’s Academy who put in the effort to make it succeed.
Cook said: ‘It’s a fantastic night for everyone. I’m sure Pompey fans will come in big numbers.
‘The young lads really deserve that.
‘There’s so much hard work which goes on in the Academy every week.
‘It’s not just from Mark Kelly and Mikey Harris.
‘But it’s also Jan Rowles, Jon Slater and all the people who work so hard.
‘These are showpiece games and everyone should come out and back them.
‘We can’t be there because of the Grimsby game, but we certainly wish them the best.
‘It’s a fantastic night to look forward to.’
Last season saw the under-18s bow out at the same stage of the competition after a brave 2-1 loss to Manchester City.
That was a strong effort from an Academy which continues to produce a production line of players into Pompey’s senior set-up.
Jack Whatmough, Conor Chaplin, Brandon Haunstrup, Calvin Davies, Ben Close, Adam May, Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain are all currently part of the first-team squad after graduating.
Cook said: ‘Our Academy is doing great.
‘Portsmouth will always produce players because of the working class nature of the area.
‘Inner cities produce footballers. That’s what the kids do there.
‘A lot of the parents are a credit, too, because of the journeys involved.
‘It’s not just that but getting them to training three times a week.
‘The journeys are there. The parents deserve a massive pat on the back because the finances aren’t easy.
‘The amount of parents I see at those nights and when the Academy train is a great credit to the people of Portsmouth.’
– JORDAN CROSS