POMPEY boss Paul Cook believes his young pretenders have been delivered an important wake-up call following defeat at Sutton United.
The Blues manager rotated his squad for Saturday’s friendly at Paul Doswell’s National League side.
Alex Bass, Ben Close, Adam May, Ben Tollitt, Brandon Haunstrup and triallist Chris Sessegnon were granted starts on the artificial pitch.
Yet Pompey were second-best for the majority of the occasion in a 2-1 defeat against the non-leaguers.
And Cook regarded the outcome as a crucial lesson to those aiming to break into his first-team.
He said: ‘When you have been to places such as Sutton you know what is coming – and our lads weren’t at it.
They think they are good players and you can be in a little bit of a bubble sometimes with people patting you on the backPaul Cook
‘For me, the game actually panned out very similar to how I expected.
‘We think we are a little bit better than we actually are, if you don’t respect the opposition you’ll find yourself on the floor. That is when people get beat at places like Sutton regularly.
‘A lot of our young lads think they should be in the first-team, sometimes attitudes and opinions on themselves can get a little too ahead of them for my liking, we can’t be coming here as Portsmouth Football Club and losing games.
‘The message to the players at half-time was they have to be better than that.
‘And if they think they should be in the first-team then that’s a reminder they might be a little bit further away than they think.
‘If our players had turned up at half-time and been two or three up you would say “Well done, you might be closer than where we think you are”.
‘Sutton were the better side in the first half, our lads couldn’t impose themselves on the game, they think they are good players and you can be in a little bit of a bubble sometimes with people patting you on the back.
‘Then you come into the real world like Sutton and all of a sudden you are 2-0 nil down and it could be three or four.
‘For Portsmouth that is not right.’
It was only upon the 69th minute entrance of nine substitutes when Pompey’s performance levels were cranked up.
Among them were Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain, who netted an 81st-minute consolation, and defender Theo Widdrington.
And Cook was pleased with how some adjusted to the match.
He added: ‘These fixtures are first-team fixtures, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Widdrington, these lads are getting good experience playing with the senior players.
‘We know we’ve got a strong group of players, we are not stupid, when they are all fit and we put them out together results can become a little bit more consistent.
‘You would expect to win the Sutton game if you were going to approach it like that.’