Hardyman seeks progress for Pompey youth graduates

Bradley Tarbuck
Bradley Tarbuck
Joe Hancott in action for Pompey Reserves against Southend. Picture: Colin Farmery

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Paul Hardyman will find himself permanently stationed with the first team when Pompey return to training next week.

And he will be hoping fellow Academy graduates Ben Close and Bradley Tarbuck can maintain their promising development.

Pre-season begins on Thursday, June 26, with the Blues squad reconvening earlier than normal for the start of preparations for the 2014-15 campaign.

Numbers will contain Close and Tarbuck, who have both emerged from the Academy to be awarded one-year deals.

Close, who hails from Fratton, is a central midfielder who netted 11 goals last term, while Emsworth’s Tarbuck is a forward who scored 12 times.

Ex-youth coach Hardyman and former Academy boss Andy Awford have overseen the development of the home-grown pair.

And Pompey’s new first-team coach has been impressed by their continued progress at Fratton Park.

‘Ben and Bradley are fantastic prospects,’ said Hardyman.

‘Ben is a midfield player who I like, I really do. His ability to do the horrible side of the game is fantastic.

‘There is his work-rate, tackling and chasing back – the kid has a fantastic attitude and scores goals as well.

‘He and Danny Hollands are very similar players and next year Ben will be watching Danny’s movement a lot because he would want to emulate what he does – and Danny also has a fantastic attitude.

‘Bradley is another Jed Wallace, really.

‘He’s got lots of ability, loves running with the ball, has got goals in the youth team, and also creates goals.

‘We have educated Brad to do that number 10 role in behind, where Wes Fogden has played, but where probably he is going to fit in is wide right.

‘It gives us – depending if Jack Maloney signs as well – another one there who can operate in that three alongside the likes of Jed, Ricky Holmes and Andy Barcham, providing the competition we want.

‘They have still got a lot of learning to do, however, and in pre-season we will see how they step up to men’s football.

‘There is still a lot of work to do with Ben and Brad to get them to the level.’

Maloney and Nick Awford could be joining the teenage duo in the seniors having been offered fresh deals.

The Blues are seeking to loan out the ex-first year professionals to non-league clubs, though, to help with their development and upkeep.

Regardless, with Wallace, Dan Butler, Adam Webster and Jack Whatmough also back a week on Thursday, there will be a sizeable Academy presence.

Hardyman added: ‘In Dan Butler we don’t have a replacement for Nicky Shorey but ready-made competition – and Nicky will know that.

‘Then there are Jack (Whatmough) and Webbo, so you have got young kids coming through, which is what it is all about.

‘But in six, seven or eight months’ time the likes of Ben and Brad will have come to terms with men’s football,

‘They might even have gone out on loan somewhere, but the main thing is they have got the basics of what they need to be a footballer and they will go on from that.’