Development group to be axed

Jack Maloney in action for Pompey in League One last year. Picture: Joe Pepler
Jack Maloney in action for Pompey in League One last year. Picture: Joe Pepler
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RICHIE BARKER is set to scrap Pompey’s development group.

The Blues boss warned future first-year professionals they will have to step straight into his side’s senior set-up.

But he explained he wants a bridging squad between Academy and first-team football – when it can be properly funded.

With the club without their own training ground, and at the wrong end of League Two, Barker feels his priorities have to lie elsewhere at present.

Josh Warren, Jack Maloney, Liam Triggs, Nick Awford and George Branford make up the current development group, with 17-year-old Jack Whatmough also a first-year professional.

The Pompey manager is adamant there needs to be greater numbers and resources afforded to the set-up to make it a success.

‘I don’t really see that there is a development squad here,’ said Barker.

‘For there to be a development squad you need a development coach, a development aspect in terms of training and development games.

‘You also need more than five players.

‘So it’s not a development squad as far as I’m concerned.

‘A development squad is 12 players with a coach, who play regularly and have somewhere to train.

‘How many boxes are ticked there? None. So I don’t see it as a development squad.

‘I see it, at this level, as players who should be ready to play in the first team.

‘I’ll be looking and saying, can they play in the first team?

‘That’s the reality of League Two football, I’m afraid.

‘It would be an idea, but have we got the finances to do that? Probably not.

‘Have we got the facilities to do it? Probably not.

‘So, for me, I don’t see it at the minute.

‘We have short-term, medium and long-term goals. The short-term one is to get away from the bottom of the table quickly.

‘That’s the main focus right now.’

Former boss Michael Appleton reintroduced the development squad to Pompey in 2012, after it was disbanded previously when the club went into administration in 2010.

Barker has championed a development squad previously in his managerial career but feels it will take time to do that at Pompey.

He said: ‘I tried to do one at Bury and Crawley. The reason I can sit here now and say we need a coach, training facility and games is because they were the things thrown back at me at Crawley.

‘Now I’ve half got one but not a full one.

‘I do like the concept but it will take two years to create.

‘You need a group, you need to sort the first team out. And you need someone to coach them and somewhere to train.

‘The first team has nowhere to train at the moment.

‘I’m not saying there is no point.

‘If you have the players to do so and feel there is a benefit for the club in future then fine. If the players aren’t good enough, or we haven’t got somewhere to do that or coach them, it’s not worth creating one for the sake of it.

‘Again, it has to have a value to all aspects.

‘Short term, can they play in the first team? Medium term – can we base the first team around them next year?

‘Long-term, can we make them first-team players?’