Boss up front over Harris’ best role

Pompey youngster Ashley Harris
Pompey youngster Ashley Harris

Ashley Harris has been backed to carve out a career as a striker.

That’s the verdict of Guy Whittingham, who has wasted no time in utilising the 18-year-old in the role he believes suits him best.

The caretaker boss employed Harris alongside Izale McLeod as part of a front two at Bury last weekend.

The Blues went on to lose the fixture 2-0. Nonetheless, there were flashes of an understanding between the pair.

Apart from the Capital One Cup clash at Plymouth, former Blues boss Michael Appleton used Harris solely in midfield.

The Purbrook youngster himself has long insisted he would prefer to serve as a forward.

Now Whittingham has indicated he is ready to give him that chance – and he believes he can flourish.

‘I think up front is Ash’s best position,’ said Whittingham.

‘He is not always going to be able to play there. There are going to be times when he’s going to be playing in different areas, but he did well for the Academy in that area.

‘Obviously, it’s a completely different game at this level. You haven’t got the time that you might have in the Academy games, but he will learn.

‘That’s the first time he has played up there for us so he will learn from the experience.

‘He’s got a good football brain and will understand what he has done well and hasn’t done well.

‘It’s difficult for Izale because he has had so many different partners, but he just needs a little bit of luck at the moment.

‘Everyone talks about Wes Thomas and what he brought to the side, and he did and it was good because he took a lot of the workload off Izale and Izale flourished off that.

‘Ash tried doing it in a different way on Saturday.

‘He gives you intelligent, short little runs, has a good touch on him with his back to goal, and he’s quite intelligent with his runs down the channels.

‘I thought he did okay against Bury.

‘Once or twice you are looking for him to make runs but he doesn’t because he is just that bit behind in his thoughts. But it will come.

‘From what we have seen from the lad so far, that is his best position.’

Gigg Lane represented a sixth Pompey start for Harris, who has been used primarily as a substitute this season.

The youngster is still trying to carve a niche for himself in the first-team.

And Whittingham believes that will come from the training ground.

The caretaker boss added: ‘What we have to do – and we haven’t had enough time so far – is work on those areas where he is the strongest.

‘You want everybody else in the team knowing what he is going to do.

‘You can work on it for one or two days, but when you are out there in the hurley burly you can’t always remember anything as a player.

‘People will get used to it. All it is, is repetition on the training ground and people working out where people go, when to make runs, when not to make runs.

‘All those things come from hard work on the training ground.’