Harris: Pompey talk can boost youngsters

Mikey Harris. Picture: Joe Pepler

Mikey Harris. Picture: Joe Pepler

Carl Baker. Picture: Joe Pepler

Coventry eyeing another Pompey swoop

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Pompey’s youngsters have embarked on a period of soul searching in a bid to bounce back from recent disappointments.

Mikey Harris’ side slipped to a 3-0 loss to Cheltenham at Furze Lane last weekend.

It followed defeats at the hands of Dagenham & Redbridge, Bournemouth and Oxford United during the past month.

Following a bright start to the campaign, the Blues’ under-18s have struck a difficult spell.

It has prompted Harris and Academy head Mark Kelly to initiate a number of heart-to-hearts among the squad.

The process of openness is regularly used to educate youngsters on the importance of team work and the necessity to respond positively to set-backs.

And Harris is hoping the discussions can yield a successful footballing reply.

He said: ‘We are really challenging them to now drive their futures forward.

‘Their reaction to adversity on the pitch has been disappointing, so they must start pulling together as a group and really driving themselves on.

‘It has been a difficult period for the lads, but in life as well as football you get difficult periods. It is how you react which defines you.

‘It has been a steep learning curve for the boys.

‘During the first part of the season we were in a really good place, winning games, having success with things going for them.

‘Lately that has not happened and we have glimpsed another side to them.

‘From a psychological and social point of view, they haven’t coped with things not going well and it has perpetuated.

‘This has been a really honest week, with lots of chats. We have facilitated a lot of talking between themselves and they have been handed more responsibility and accountability for what they are doing.

‘At the end of the day, they are trying to forge themselves a career and we have explained to them that in football the lows tend to outweigh the highs unless you are very, very lucky.

‘On that basis, you have to be able to make sure you can handle the lows and respond positivity in order to reach those highs.

‘It has been really, really positive and, while it is not going to change overnight, there is a really good base to work from in terms of a group moving forwards.

‘At this stage we are in a development game as opposed to the results business and you just hope they learn from those experiences.’

The Academy host Alan McLoughlin’s Swindon under-18s at Furze Lane on Saturday (11am).

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