ACADEMY COACH Mikey Harris revealed his pride at the seamless transition made by Pompey’s youngsters to reserve-team football.
Six Blues apprentices tasted game time in the Final Third Development League curtain-raising 3-2 win at Peterborough on Tuesday.
Defensive duo Calvin Davis and Chad Field and midfielder James Granger were all handed starts by first-team coach Alan McLoughlin, while Brandon Haunstrup, Lewis Gill and Conor Chaplin entered the fray as second-half substitutes.
First-team trio Miles Storey, Andy Barcham and Ben Close were all on target as the Blues held off a late fightback from the Posh to get the new campaign up and running in the best possible manner.
And Harris believes his young charges made the most of the opportunity afforded to them.
He said: ‘It’s always nice for the lads to be given an opportunity to step up and work with the first team and get involved in that environment.
‘They all acquitted themselves very well.
‘It was good to get a positive result but obviously that is not the most important thing when you look at a reserve game.
‘Every individual has a different goal to get out of the game.
‘For the first-team lads returning from injury it is obviously to get minutes under their belt.
‘For the lads who aren’t in the first team, it is to show the gaffer that they should be in the first team.
‘And for the youth-team players, it is an opportunity to show how close they are to stepping up to senior football and pushing for a first-team squad place.’
Harris also reserved praise for the Blues’ selected first-team players, who ensured the youth team were made to feel comfortable in a senior environment.
‘Peterborough had quite a young side but a few experienced campaigners in there so it was nice for the boys to test themselves up against them,’ said Harris.
‘They really enjoyed the experience and it can only stand them in good stead.
‘The good thing about Pompey is that the club is like one big family.
‘All of the first-team lads took the youth-team players under their wing and helped them out.
‘There are absolutely no egos whatsoever – it’s all very positive and it was a great experience for the boys to play alongside those players.’
Pompey Academy return to action on Saturday when they entertain Bournemouth at Furze Lane (11.30am).
The Blues will this week run the rule over Kaleem Haitham and Brandon Joseph-Buadi (both shin) although both are expected to be in the frame for selection.
However, Dory Yates (broken leg) remains sidelined through long-term injury.
POMPEY (from): Bass, George, Chaplin, Davis, Field, Gill, Granger, Haitham, Haunstrup, Joseph-Buadi, May, McDowell, Nilsen, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rwakarambwe, Sayers
– JEFF MARSHMAN