Hardyman alarm at Academy fixture overload

Josh Warren has went on loan to Bognor
Josh Warren has went on loan to Bognor

Paul Hardyman has voiced his concerns for Pompey’s youngsters after they were plunged into fixture congestion.

The Academy must play seven matches over the next four weeks following a string of match cancellations since the turn of the year.

The latest came on Tuesday when the re-arranged match at Aldershot’s Guildford venue was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

The league have turned down suggestions of extending the campaign for all clubs to get in remaining matches.

That scenario has disappointed Academy coach Hardyman, whose numbers have already been hit hard by injuries and first-team call-ups.

Last week the youth set-up also had to take on Brighton keeper Luke Culquhoun on loan.

And Hardyman is disappointed with the hectic schedule that lies ahead.

He said: ‘It was really frustrating when the Aldershot match was called off.

‘They told us on the day at midday they wanted to play it on Astroturf instead, but it was a bit late.

‘Besides, we have three players who cannot train on that surface because it gives them injury problems. We had to decline their kind offer and rearranged it for another date.

‘The problem is time is ticking away and the league have said no to an extension.

‘That is seven games to be played in four weeks, which I know doesn’t sound too bad but these lads are only used to Saturday-to-Saturday matches. This will be quite hard for them.

‘I have explained to the lads that if they are going to go up the ladder they will play Saturday-to-Tuesday for a good number of weeks, so consider this development.

‘For players their age, though, they represent 90 very physical minutes as well as 90 minutes mentally.

‘The lads are travelling as well to the games, sometimes leaving at 7am.

‘Some people may turn round and rightly say they are getting up at 6am every day of the week for work rather than one day.

‘I can appreciate that having been a carpenter and joiner getting up at 6.30am, before becoming a professional footballer.

‘But this is not an ideal scenario for young scholars who have just left school and are coming up to the end of their first season.

‘The FA are very quick on talking abut protecting players from overuse injuries but we are now getting to the stage of Saturday-to-Tuesday for the rest of the season.’

Hardyman’s squad has also been hit hard by unavailabilites.

Adam Webster and Jack Maloney are in the first-team set-up, while Kane Cook (shoulder), James Hartson (knee), Nick Tarasenko (knee) and Claude da Costa (back) are injured.

In addition, Josh Warren has joined Bognor on loan.