Hawks assistant-manager Shaun Gale believes young Pompey loanee Dan Butler has a bright future ahead of him in the professional game.
Gale has worked closely with the talented youngster over the past couple of weeks, following his loan move from Fratton Park, and has been impressed with what he has seen from the exciting full-back in the Blue Square Bet South.
The 18-year-old arrived at Westleigh Park on a youth loan at the beginning of November – at a time when the Hawks were struggling.
With regular left-back Chris Arthur injured, new manager Lee Bradbury was having to fill the void with utility players, but with a limited amount of success.
Those players selected to deputise worked hard but it remained an area other teams could and did exploit.
But since Butler’s arrival from Fratton Park, he has filled that gap admirably and has played a leading part in the Hawks’ recent mini-revival.
Bradbury’s men are now unbeaten in three games – and the performances of Butler, who shows a maturity well beyond his age, have gone a long way towards making that possible.
‘His league debut against Welling was probably the best I have seen from anyone at the club,’ said Gale.
‘He passes the ball well, competes and isn’t frightened of a tackle.
‘Defensively, he is very sound. And, with his pace, he also gives us plenty of options going forward.
‘He showed that at Weston on Saturday in the final few minutes when he burst forward and cracked a 30-yard shot against the post.
‘Most impressively, though, he has a terrific attitude towards the game.
‘He has a fantastic manner, is fit as a fiddle and that’s why he will go on and have a great career in the game.
‘He’s definitely one for the future.’
The talent and approach of the youngster speaks volumes of the work currently being done with the latest crop of Academy players at Fratton Park.
In the past, some of the youngsters who have made the transition from professional youth football to the Hawks have struggled.
But now Andy Awford, Paul Hardyman and their coaches are working hard at preparing their youngsters for the step up.
And Gale is hoping the Hawks can benefit further by keeping Butler over the hectic Christmas period.
‘He might not quite be ready for first-team football at Fratton Park but if they did chuck him in he wouldn’t be out of place,’ added Gale.
‘Another month or two with us and maybe he could be ready.
‘Whatever happens he has enjoyed his time with us and the players have enjoyed playing alongside him.
‘He has certainly given us a different dimension.’