Exeter v Pompey: Cook will take fine to play youngsters

Ben Close could feature for Pompey tonight at Exeter. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ben Close could feature for Pompey tonight at Exeter. Picture: Joe Pepler

PAUL COOK is prepared to take a financial hit to blood Pompey’s youngsters.

The Blues boss is ready to shake up his team selection for tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy (JPT) trip to Exeter City.

If we have to take a financial hit I’ll take a financial hit.

Paul Cook

And that is likely to see the club fined over the competition’s rules for picking players.

The JPT rules state clubs have to pick six of 11 players who started the side’s previous or ensuing fixture.

Alternatively, a manager can play six of his top 11 appearance makers from domestic league and cup competitions.

Breaking those rules can see clubs liable for a fine of up to £5,000.

That is something Cook is prepared to take on the chin to ensure his emerging players get minutes at St James Park in the first-round clash.

Cook is planning to hand starts to the likes of Academy youngster Calvin Davies and teenage midfielder Adam May.

Like many of his peers, the Pompey boss is perplexed by the restrictions placed on his selection choices.

And he is willing to accept the penalty to do what he believes is best for his side.

Cook said: ‘I will be making changes.

‘I don’t agree with the rules at all. I think we should be looking out for the future of our young players.

‘If we have to take a financial hit, we’ll take a financial hit.

‘I believe if it’s the best decision for the future of our club, it’s the right one to make.’

The likes of Ben Tollitt, Ben Close, Brandon Haunstrup, Adam Webster and Conor Chaplin could be involved.

Tollitt has had to settle for just 23 minutes of first-team action since joining from Skelmersdale United.

Haunstrup and Chaplin were both given Blues starts in the Capital One Cup matches against Derby and Reading.

Adam Barton is close to coming back into the senior picture after struggling with a groin injury so far this season and Kal Naismith has been passed fit after his thigh problem.

James Dunne is fit again after his ankle issue, while Adam McGurk will be looking to up his playing time.

Cook said: ‘People haven’t really seen Ben Tollitt yet but he is a talented young man. I want to give them minutes on the pitch.

‘Once we get past the Exeter game I will need to look at the bigger picture for these lads to gain experience.

‘I don’t think it should surprise you with the way Adam Webster has played.

‘He is such a good player and such a good lad. The good thing about our young lads is their attitude to the game.

‘It’s Conor Chaplin, Ben Close, Brandon Haunstrup and you can go right through the lot of them really.

‘These lads are grounded and are working hard.

‘They are the last lads to leave the training ground.

‘If you do that, you give yourself a chance of being a footballer.’