Guy: Development squad key to moving forward

Jed Wallace's career has benefitted from the development squad Picture: Joe Pepler
Jed Wallace's career has benefitted from the development squad Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey’s development squad will remain in place for next season.

Guy Whittingham revealed the transitional team will be kept on for the new campaign.

The Blues boss has been a strong advocate of the group and feels its significance has been justified by the number of players who have emerged from the set-up into the first-team this season.

The likes of Jed Wallace, Dan Butler and Ashley Harris have all come from the group into the senior ranks.

Dan Thompson, Alex Grant, Elliot Wheeler and George Colson were others who formed part of the squad this term and were allowed out on loan.

With Whittingham’s vision placed firmly on harnessing young talent moving forward, he feels keeping the set-up in place is key.

He knows how close it came to the squad being binned 12 months ago, with the club struggling in administration.

Whittingham, along with Academy boss Andy Awford, battled hard to keep it alive, however.

They both had to cut their cloth accordingly to do that.

But Whittingham feels that decision has paid off – as will keeping it in place moving forward.

He said: ‘It came very close to not having a development group.

‘Myself and Andy fought hard for that.

‘We made some sacrifices but fought hard because we thought it was the right thing to do – and it has been proved right.

‘It will run along the same sort of means as this year. People will be looked after with the first team for a time and then look to go out and get games.

‘It’s proven it’s worth.’

Whittingham paid tribute to outgoing BDO administrator Trevor Birch for his role in keeping the development squad going.

He feels Birch worked hard in making the numbers stack up to keep it in place.

‘You have to understand what Michael Appleton was trying to do first-team-wise with his budget as well. But some people put in some really hard work to keep it,’ said Whittingham.

‘You can’t take away what Trevor Birch did in keeping it. He’s a football man, saw the importance of it and did his best to find a way around it and make it work.’