Pompey shelve development squad

Pompey youngster Jack Maloney
Pompey youngster Jack Maloney

Andy Awford has shelved the development squad for now as he admitted: Our experiment hasn’t quite worked.

Guy Whittingham kept five development players at the start of the season in an attempt to bridge the gap between the Academy and the first team.

But while Awford would like to adopt a similar strategy, he agrees with previous boss Richie Barker and believes Pompey do not have the resources to do it properly.

He said: ‘There won’t be a development squad next season. We just don’t have enough players to do that.

‘A development squad is at least 15 players with its own department.

‘It’s like a separate part within the Academy, with its own coach, its own physio and own analysis.

‘As a football club, we can’t do that at the moment.

‘We tried to do something this season and it hasn’t quite worked.’

Awford has often spoken about the difficulty in players making the step up from Academy football to being part of the first-team squad at a young age.

And he has often raised concerns on how so much time and effort can be devoted to development of players until they reach the end of their Academy stay and are then cast aside.

Jack Maloney, Nick Awford, George Branford, Liam Triggs and Josh Warren were in the group last term, and only Awford and Maloney are in discussions over a new deal.

But the Blues boss believes it can’t work with a handful of players caught in between levels.

Awford added: ‘What I will have is the youth team and professional players. I will choose from that group who plays on a Saturday.

‘First-year professionals will be with the main group.

‘So we won’t have three groups, we will have two.

‘It hasn’t worked just having five players. We know that and we’ve addressed it.

‘If we could afford a group of 20 development players and all the other things, we would do it.

‘But we’re not in a position to do that.

‘Perhaps we could be in a couple of years. It’s something I would like to do eventually and everybody recognises that.’

– STEVE WILSON