Harris: Pompey chapter closes but not end for youngsters

Mikey Harris
Mikey Harris
Jamal Lowe is sent off against Rochdale. Picture: Joe Pepler

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MIKEY HARRIS describes it as annually the worst day on his Pompey calendar.

Certainly for those youngsters informed they will not be remaining at Fratton Park, the moment is heartbreaking.

Yet, as the under-18s coach insists, the painful news is not necessarily the end of the footballing dream.

Along with Academy manager Mark Kelly and head of education and welfare Jon Slater, on Monday Harris sat down with second-year scholars to deliver their Blues fate.

With first-year professional terms on offer, it can be an emotional occasion for all concerned.

The outcome will soon be announced by Pompey, although those youngsters involved are aware of the decisions.

And for Harris, who has overseen their development for the previous two years, it represents a hard time of year.

He said: ‘This is the most challenging part of the year, especially having built relationships with these players over a period of time.

‘The one thing I will say about our Academy is we don’t have bad people, there are no bad human beings and that almost makes it harder because they are all great people.

‘The lads just have to understand this is part of their journey and not necessarily the end. It just means their next stage is elsewhere.

‘Obviously it is an emotional time – and for the staff as well.

‘These are lads we have worked with day in, day out for two years now, so it’s natural to build relationships. But that is the process.

‘We try to look at all aspects of their game and not only whether they are ready at this moment in time – it is highly unlikely for an 18-year-old to perform consistently in any first-team.

‘So we are looking at potential and what we feel are levels and standards the players are able to reach, although it is not an exact science and quite difficult to predict.

‘It’s a very complicated process and not solely based on ability, with attitude and talent coming into it, as does the pathway for the individual in question.

‘The challenge is to look who is ahead of him in his position in the first-team squad. You also have to look behind to see whose pathway they may be stopping.

‘At the end of the day, football is about opinions and the opinion of one football club is not necessarily the correct one.

‘Just because a player is let go does not mean he won’t have a successful career.’

Pompey face MK Dons at Furze Lane on Saturday.