Young guns show development is key

Jed Wallace made his full league debut against Hartlepool on Saturday Picture: Barry Zee
Jed Wallace made his full league debut against Hartlepool on Saturday Picture: Barry Zee

Paul Hardyman championed the emergence of Pompey’s young guns in the Fratton first-team picture.

And the Academy coach believes there are more youngsters ready to graduate into the senior set-up before the end of the season, if needed.

Jed Wallace and Dan Butler both shone on their full league debuts against Hartlepool on Saturday.

Hardyman reckons that highlights the relevanace of Pompey’s development squad, which acts as a conduit between the Academy and first team.

With the uncertainty around the club, it is unclear whether that squad will remain.

Hardyman feels there are more players who could progress from that set-up into the first team this season, though.

He said: ‘Jed and Buts have both aquitted themselves well.

‘We’ve got them out on loan to non-league sides to toughen them up. And now the first team is benefitting from them.

‘We had three of last year’s youth team in the starting XI against Notts County and a scholar on the bench in Adam Webster.

‘Adam’s still a young lad and is developing. That’s what the development squad is about.

‘Is there going to be a development squad for next season is a question we need to answer. With what’s happened with Dan Butler, Jed Wallace, Adam Webster and Ashley Harris all getting into the squad that’s relevant.

‘We’d like to think they’d all be part of the first-team squad next season and there’s more who could come through this season.

‘There’s Dan Thompson, Alex Grant, Elliot Wheeler and George Colson in the current development squad.

‘Will we add to them with the current crop of second years and keep bringing them through? It’s a tough one.

‘All the credit goes to those players getting into the first-team squad. It shows the potential is there. They’ve shown they can compete.’

Butler has operated as a left-sided wing-back and orthodox left-back in his two appearances.

Wallace played in a central midfield role against Pools before operating on the right against Notts Country.

That highlights the importance of the youth set-up for Pompey in their current situation.

Hardyman said: ‘Last year we had Dan in the youth team. His delivery is good, he has a good left foot.

‘He’s a converted winger really but has slotted into that left-back role.

‘He’s a fit lad who likes a tackle and rarely gives the ball away.

‘Jed has always been full of confidence.

‘If he gave the ball away nine times out of 10 he’d tell you the one time was a good ’un. He’s that sort of lad.

‘He’s full of belief and that comes out on the pitch.

‘He’s an athlete as well and will get about.

‘It’s nice to see these boys coming in. The Academy is all about that productivity.’