Michael Appleton has backed Ashley Harris to realise his potential in a Pompey shirt.
The 18-year-old scored his maiden goal for the Blues in the pre-season friendly win against Bolton on Saturday.
The Purbrook youngster latched on to a left-wing cross from Liam Lawrence to head home in front of the Fratton end – just minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute.
It proved a memorable moment for the forward, who only burst on to the first-team scene at the tail end of last season.
After making his Pompey debut with a cameo appearance in the 4-1 home win over Birmingham in March, Harris went on to make four more Championship appearances – starting the final two games of the campaign.
Despite his timely emergence and Pompey’s problems, Appleton remains reluctant to thrust him into the limelight too often, with the teenager yet to complete 90 minutes of pre-season action to date.
The Blues boss is also wary of fans expecting too much of a youngster still getting to grips with first-team football.
But he admits, if managed properly, Harris can develop into a player the Fratton faithful can be proud of.
‘Young Ash has been a little bit out of sorts, to be fair,’ said Appleton.
‘He had a great end to the season last year but it has took him a little bit of time to get back into it.
‘I thought he did okay on Saturday and took his goal well.
‘He will be literally up and down all season, as Adam Webster will be.
‘Three or four weeks he will be outstanding and do everything right then for three or four weeks he will be hopeless and do everything wrong.
‘That’s just the education of a young player.
‘I have worked long enough with kids in my time at West Brom to know what the development of young players is like.’
– MARK McMAHON