Opportunity knocks for Pompey's youth set-up

Kal Naismith 'fed off scraps' against Oxford Picture: Joe Pepler

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Pompey are ready to transform their struggling youth set up after Paul Smalley's surprise departure.

The head of youth operations mutually agreed to leave Fratton Park on Friday.

For many, his exit from a position he has held since July 2009 was a bolt out of the blue.

Yet change is in the air as the Blues seek to resurrect their spluttering youth policy which has taken a hammering amid financial constraints in recent years.

Smalley leaves behind an Academy side nine points adrift at the foot of Premier Academy League Group A.

Since September 27, 2009, they have won just three league matches.

It's a desperately disappointing return from a production line which had millions lavished into it after Paul Hart arrived in March 2007.

As it stands, Pompey have just Nadir Ciftci to show for that heavy investment.

Others such as Joel Ward, Matt Ritchie and Marlon Pack were already in the system having been recruited by Dave Hurst.

Now Smalley – the man who replaced Hart following his elevation to first-team manager – has departed the Blues.

Cut backs and administration had hindered his and the club's hope of progress.

And today David Lampitt is focusing on putting matters back on track.

The chief executive said: 'We part company on good terms.

'Paul Smalley wants to take on a fresh challenge after working through some pretty tough times.

'From our point of view, there is now an opportunity for us to regroup and look at how we are doing on youth development.

'We must decide whether to do something different and change anything.

'We will be looking to bring somebody new in and that will happen as soon as possible.

'It is still to be decided whether we have an interim manager but what is certain is we are looking to have someone in place very soon.

'At the moment we are also in the process of recruiting an assistant academy director, which has been something planned for a while.

'That will probably be put on hold until a replacement for Paul Smalley has been found.

'It is only right that winning candidate is part of the recruitment process.

'We need somebody in there and this is a great chance to change a few

things in this area.

'I think we have got to reinvigorate the youth system and there is a real opportunity for someone.'

'There is a great opportunity there to lead an academy at a high-level football club and make a real difference.

'We hope to attract some decent candidates and I am sure we will.'