JOHNNY ERTL believes Pompey’s young guns are sending a message to future generations of talent.
And the Blues club captain reckons the emergence of rising stars at Fratton Park can help fend off the threat of football’s powerhouses circling local prospects.
Rather than signing for a big, big name like Chelsea they can play here.Johnny Ertl
Last season’s finale saw Gary Waddock give a host of youngsters a chance to shine.
The performances of the likes of Conor Chaplin, Adam Webster and Ben Close provided a bright spot in an otherwise dreary finale to the campaign.
Seeing those players hold their own was a big positive, and now the challenge to them is continue their progress under new boss Paul Cook.
Ertl reckons those players possess a lot of talent and can offer hope to others.
He said: ‘We have youngsters coming through at the Academy. That’s important.
‘We have good boys here. There is a good catchment area.
‘Young boys like Conor Chaplin and Adam Webster.
‘They did very well at the end of last season and are coming through
‘Ben Close grew up just around the corner from the ground. It’s a great thing.
‘The fans know they are their boys.
‘They are showing other young players what can be achieved.
‘I watch them work on a daily basis and can see their talent.
‘They come from a good background and want to work hard.
‘It’s a constant learning process.
‘A lot of the youngsters stepped up last season. Now it’s about the next step for them.’
Ertl feels seeing young players feature at senior level is an important weapon in Pompey’s battle against top clubs fighting for their talent.
The likes of Chelsea and Spurs now have development centres on Pompey’s patch, with category one-rated Academies no longer restricted on where they operate.
Ertl said: ‘You see the Chelsea boys here at half-term.
‘If I was a parent I’d look at their Academies and see they sign people for fun. Are they really going to get a chance?
‘But here we are a community club and community stands for everyone helping each other out.
‘So, you think, in the long term, my boy might get a chance here.
‘Look at some of the young players here getting a chance.
‘That should be a sign of encouragement to parents.
‘Rather than signing for a big, big name like Chelsea they can play here.
‘I was working with the under-10s here and you can see their talent. They have great skills.
‘I was taking the sessions and I could see their ability.
‘On the pitch we didn’t do as well as we should have last season.
‘But with the youngsters we are going in the right direction.’