Harris: Cup clamour won’t distract Pompey Academy

Pompey Academy coach Mikey Harris        Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey Academy coach Mikey Harris Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke, left, has been injured since the pre-season friendly against the Hawks

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Mikey Harris has warned his Pompey Academy players not to become distracted by the prospect of another ‘fantastic’ FA Youth Cup outing at Fratton Park.

Harris’ under-18s side have been handed another chance to impress in front of the Blues’ vocal home support after landing a plum tie with Met Police – following their 5-0 first-round thrashing of Eastleigh last time out.

But before attention turns to Wednesday’s second-round encounter (7.15pm), Pompey’s youngsters have a Youth Alliance League south west division trip to Yeovil to take in on Saturday (11am).

And Harris insists that is where the focus lies as he looks for his side to respond to a poor second-half display in last weekend’s 3-2 win over Bristol Rovers.

‘At this moment in time the focus is on Yeovil and only Yeovil – the FA Youth Cup doesn’t come into it,’ he said.

‘Yeovil is a game we are looking forward to – and I am expecting a response from Saturday because our performance levels where nowhere near where they should be.

‘We have done a lot of work on our second-half performance this week and I am expecting to see a positive reaction from the group.

‘I always say you learn more from your failures than successes and we can learn a lot from our second-half performance on Saturday.

‘We have had some good chats and good sessions and hopefully we will get a good performance from the lads.’

Harris welcomes injured duo Tommy Scutt and Jez Bedford back into his thoughts with Jack Chandler also in contention.

Ousman Saidy, however, is still suspended and will also miss the Blues’ Youth Cup tie with Met Police – an occasion Harris is relishing.

He said: ‘It’s fantastic to be at home and we are excited to play at Fratton Park again.

‘The last experience for the boys was incredible.

‘The fans came out and backed them which was absolutely brilliant and hopefully they will do the same this time around.

‘I have got so much time for the Pompey fans – they always come out to back the young lads and that goes a long way to creating an atmosphere.

‘It is a game we are looking forward to.’

Harris, though, will not be taking his unfancied opponents lightly.

‘We dont know a great deal about Met Police,’ he added.

‘But those people who are looking at it and thinking its a good draw for us, I hate that way of thinking – it’s only a good draw if we win the tie.

‘We will give them the respect they rightly deserve.

‘But hopefully we can get through to the third round for a third year in a row and test ourselves against a Premier League Academy side.’

– JEFF MARSHMAN