Andy Awford believes Gosport youngster Jack Whatmough can be pleased with his Pompey bow.
The 17-year-old was granted a surprise debut on Tuesday night by the Blues’ caretaker boss in his first game in charge.
Only a week earlier, the central defender had been playing for the Academy in a 1-0 FA Youth Cup win over Barton Rovers.
Yet Whatmough was named alongside Sonny Bradley in the heart of the Pompey defence for the League Two clash against Southend in front of 13,427 supporters.
The Shrimpers snatched victory with two late goals, despite being down to 10-men. But Awford was delighted with the contribution of the teenager.
He said: ‘We sometimes say to the kids “Enjoy the Youth Cup because you may not get the opportunity to play at Fratton Park again” – and there Jack is next game.
‘I thought he had a good, solid debut. He did well, I was pleased with him.
‘It is my job as Academy manager to tell the manager who I think may be ready to step into the first-team squad, so Jack has been on the bench a few times.
‘He has come back to me and Paul (Hardyman) recently, trained and played for us and Guy (Whittingham) and I have had a couple of conversations over playing him.
‘It’s Guy’s prerogative, he chose not to. I am not going to criticise that, it’s his decision, but I felt it was right to play Jack on Tuesday night.
‘He defends, he’s only just 17, but is built like a man and is still growing and will get bigger and stronger, and defends properly in the main.
‘He still has a lot to learn and will improve, but he is a confident lad and I just felt with the goals we have shipped in maybe bringing in a new face might give us a helping hand.
‘It did for long periods, but as a team – I am not criticising Jack here – we switched off at the wrong time.
‘It’s a great learning curve for him. They crashed diagonal after diagonal on top of him and he dealt with most things manfully and I was pleased with his performance.
‘He should be, too.’
Whatmough has made 10 appearances for the Academy this season. Formerly he was on the books of Southampton.