Future of prized asset has to be best for all

Jed Wallace has enjoyed a rapid rise in the past 12 months
Jed Wallace has enjoyed a rapid rise in the past 12 months

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Things have happened pretty quickly for Jed Wallace.

A Pompey breakthrough, six senior goals, the attention of Championship suitors and a new contract.

And then, on top of all that, the call from his country.

Wallace is hoping to get playing time for Noel Blake’s England under-19 side against Scotland tonight, as the young Three Lions aim to make it to the Uefa Under-19 Championship finals.

Wallace is out in Belgium, alongside Pompey team-mate Adam Webster, as he looks for his first minutes of the competition.

Being the kind of driven, young man he is, the 19-year-old isn’t particularly happy to make up the numbers in Blake’s squad.

But it’s very easy to forget Wallace was playing Ryman League football at Whitehawk six months ago.

In typical fashion, he made a big impact there, scoring 12 goals in 13 games to help the outfit reach the Blue Square Bet South.

It was Wallace’s form under Guy Whittingham at Pompey towards the end of last season that really saw his stock rise, though.

After playing his first League game on New Year’s Day, Wallace went on to make 22 League One appearances – 19 of them starts.

His move into the senior set-up has been undeniably impressive.

An underlying belief which borders just on the likeable side of cocky has undoubtedly been a key factor in Wallace’s success.

He handles himself well and now clearly believes he belongs at a decent level in the game.

That wasn’t necessarily the case a year or so ago, though, when he was facing his current England team-mates whilst playing for Pompey’s Academy.

‘I remember playing against some of the players and thinking I would never be a good as them,’ admitted Wallace from England’s base in Belgium.

Well, it looks like he’s well on the way to putting that right in the wake of his exciting debut campaign.

Inevitably, attention has followed the former Lewes talent.

Brighton’s interest has been most notable among a couple of sides who tabled offers.

Whittingham brushed those five-figure bids off in textbook manner, labelling them ‘derisory’.

The Seagulls had been expected to swoop again, however.

Although, where that effort lies in the wake of their managerial upheaval is anyone’s guess.

There will be other sides, of course, especially with advisors around Wallace who seem adept at generating national column inches for him.

Wallace is more than capable of doing that himself by continuing the form he ended the season with.

Fortunately for Pompey, the club holds the cards for the time being, after actioning a clause to extend his contract for a year.

The debate for Whittingham will be whether to cash in on his prized asset sooner rather than later.

Blues chief executive Mark Catlin has made it clear the starlet is not leaving on the cheap.

But, with a limited budget, the remuneration for Wallace’s services could fund strengthening in a number of areas, in a way we have seen at Fratton Park many times over the years.

The feeling is another year down at PO4 would be the best outcome for Wallace’s personal development.

A player’s progress doesn’t always seem the primary concern in these situations, however, as we have seen with Simon Eastwood – who has instead chosen to move to Blackburn where he is likely to be picking up splinters next season.

Whatever Wallace’s fate, the hope is it will be the best outcome for all concerned – a club who now have a future to look towards and a talented young player with a bright one.