Portsmouth & Southsea go for youth

Lewis Russell

Lewis Russell

Chris Stone

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Portsmouth & Southsea have turned to youth in a bid to end their early-season slump.

The division three outfit have played three and lost three this term and host early pacesetters Tichborne Park at St James’s Park.

But Ben Saunders, a 16-year-old off-spinner, has been given the nod to try to boost their fortunes and he is set for his Southern League debut.

Skipper Lewis Russell said: ‘I think he is worth giving a go.

‘He’s at the age where he might not quite be ready but we think we would rather put him in early.

‘We wanted to get him into the side now, rather than giving it a few years because we think he is an exciting talent.

‘He played in a friendly at the start of the season against a touring side from Ireland and he was our best bowler by far.

‘As far as I’m concerned, it’s the right time for him to come in to see what he can do.

‘Hopefully, he will get off to a good start but he is one for the future so we won’t be placing too much pressure on him just yet.’

While Portsmouth & Southea have made a poor start and are bottom of the pile, it’s a different story for league leaders Tichborne Park.

Russell said: ‘Tichborne are the reverse to us – they have a 100-per-cent record so it’s quite a big game.

‘Last week against Waterlooville we did quite well considering we had half the first team missing for one reason or another.

‘So I don’t think it’s time for panic stations.

‘We will start again this weekend and try to get things going in the right direction.’

Waterlooville, 
meanwhile, make the trip to Trojans fresh from their derby win.

‘We’re still learning said skipper Jon Hudson.

‘There may come a time when things are not going our way this season but we are just taking it one game at a time.

‘We are in a good habit of winning at the moment and we will re-assess it if things come unstuck.

‘But we’ve got that belief at the moment and we need to keep that going because we know there is a step up in standard.’

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