Hardyman won’t allow youngsters to get carried away by Academy progress

Pompey youth take on Moneyfields
Pompey youth take on Moneyfields
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Paul Currie/Bluepitch media

Pompey boss identifies early concerns

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It was a four-minute hat-trick in the demolition of Moneyfields which lit up Fratton Park.

But Paul Hardyman is adamant free-scoring midfielder Ben Close will not be allowed to be swept away by hype and expectations.

The home-grown product scored four first-half goals in total as Paul Hardyman’s side ran out 12-0 winners in the FA Youth Cup fixture on Tuesday night.

It took his tally to the season to eight in 12 matches, although he was substituted mid-way through the second-half with cramp.

Jack Whatmough was another who caught the eye as he continues to make encouraging progress.

The Gosport youngster has already been an unused substitute on four occasions for the first-team so far this season.

Academy coach Hardyman, though, insists he and boss Andy Awford will not let either become distracted by the bright lights.

He said: ‘Ben is a good midfield player, someone that strikes a nice ball and has a knack of arriving into the box at the right time.

‘He’s a very young lad, he knows he still has to work on stuff, the same as Jack, the same as all the boys.

‘Not once do we let them off the hook at all, we are on them 24/7 basically.

‘From our point of view, all Ben is, is a good player and for us he’s one of a bunch of players that could go on.

‘Jack has obviously been highlighted because he has been on the bench, but we don’t highlight them because all we want is the best for them.

‘To protect them from anything is what it is all about for us.

‘What they do in the youth team is a massive step up into the development group and then it’s a massive step up into the first-team.

‘On Tuesday they performed against a local non-league club and yes we are expected to win, yes we put in a good performance and scored some goals, but the bigger picture is can they make that step into the development group, can they make it into the first team?

‘We would have ideally kept Ben on against Moneyfields, he had done enough and got a little bit of cramp. We thought it better to save him for Saturday.

‘Hopefully he can perform again against AFC Wimbledon and give another good performance.’

The other scorers against Moneyfields were Chad Field (two), Lewis Gill, Jack Whatmough, Bradley Tarbuck, Adam May, Harry Medway and Lewis Horsburgh.

The rampant hosts also hit the bar three times in front of an impressive crowd of 948.

On Saturday they have a trip to AFC Wimbledon in the league.

Meanwhile, last weekend the Academy defeated Leyton Orient 3-0 at Furze Lane, with Whatmough, Tarbuck and Horsburgh all scoring.