Pompey manager Kenny Jackett will weigh up Bradley Lethbridge’s pre-season impact before mapping out his loan future - but a Bognor return is not out of the question.
The striker is among three academy graduates who will rub shoulders with Pompey’s first-team squad in the forthcoming campaign.
Lethbridge joins Joe Hancott and Leon Maloney in taking the next step in their Fratton Park progress, commencing with Thursday’s return to pre-season training.
The 18-year-old started two Checkatrade Trophy fixtures during last season’s Wembley journey which saw the Blues claim silverware. He also netted 13 times in 42 appearances during a successful loan spell with the Rocks.
Inevitably, Jack Pearce is interested in Lethbridge returning to Nyewood Lane. But first Jackett wants to assess the Gosport youngster during pre-season.
Pompey’s boss said: "You always want young players around, you want them to progress, and Bradley was among those who went into senior football although still an under-18. He has been physically able to handle men’s football and that has done him more good than playing in our under-18s. Perhaps he would have scored a lot of goals in youth football, but testing himself in men’s football is better.
"We will see how he is in pre-season. If there is a loan out for Bradley, we want to tie that up as high as possible, but it’s up to clubs to want to take them as well, we cannot just place them.
"I would be looking at clubs above Bognor’s level. The fact he has been out playing and scoring goals rather than in an under-18s hopefully will encourage clubs at a slightly higher level in senior non-league football to take him.
"He has a track record already, not just for our youth team. Whether it’s Bognor next year or the level up, as a player he has targets to improve."
Jackett has been impressed by Lethbridge's progress. He added: ‘Bradley has an eye for goal, with a good goal-scoring record at Bognor and our youth team. He is a physical centre-forward and one of the boys we have been looking into getting in our cup teams. But the majority of his games have been at Bognor.