Paul Cook expects Conor Chaplin to play a significant role for Pompey this season.
The 18-year-old talent scored two goals in an impressive display in the club’s latest pre-season friendly at Gosport Borough playing in a withdrawn position behind the main striker.
I see all of the lads being a big part of the squad this season. It doesn’t matter about their age and Conor is no different in that respect.Paul Cook
Chaplin is again expected to be involved in tonight’s pre-season showdown with Coventry City at Westleigh Park (7.30pm) as Pompey step up their preparations with a first clash against league opposition.
But Cook has shot down any notion that his young talent will be protected or loaned out to gain experience this season.
Instead, the Blues boss sees him a key part of the plans.
Cook said: ‘I see all of the lads being a big part of the squad this season. It doesn’t matter about their age and Conor is no different in that respect.
‘He’s a good player and good players play in good teams.
‘He has got a fantastic goalscoring record for a young lad. He is certainly a good individual player but we must integrate that into a team.
‘Individuals can win games for you but they need to be a part of a team.
‘We certainly see a lot of talent in Conor and one of the creditable things about him is that he is such a lovely kid as well.’
Although Cook preferred not to go into too much detail on how Chaplin fits into the formation, the youngster proved he is well capable of playing in a deeper role and prefers that position.
Cook said: ‘He can certainly do that role behind the striker but I think there is too much made of tactics.
‘I want to be talking about good team performances rather than strong individual ones.
‘Individually, you would say we have good players.
‘But we want to have a good Portsmouth team on the pitch so it’s important we integrate those lads into a system that feels right.
‘We are working towards that but there is a lot of work to be done.
‘It’s very much a work in progress and I think that is there for all to see at the moment.’
Cook is now looking for his players to continue their progress towards full match sharpness against Coventry after seeing Pompey tire in the second half at Privett Park.
He said: ‘I think it was important to get 90 minutes for a few of them because there were stages where the lads were very tired against Gosport – I think that was obvious for everyone to see.
‘We’ve got to get more minutes into the players now, starting with Coventry.’
And Cook also hinted that his team will need time to get up to full speed with the new League Two season less than three weeks away.
Cook said: ‘The season will come up on us very quickly.
‘There is great expectancy at the club and rightly so. But it’s a 46-game season and we’re hoping we will always be showing signs of getting better.
‘Whoever is top of the league in September or October, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will be top at the end of the season.’