Paul Hardyman has tipped Bradley Tarbuck for a big future at Pompey.
But the Academy boss believes there is still a long way to go in the teenager’s development before he makes the grade.
Tarbuck has scored 17 goals for the Academy this season, with two arriving in his last two outings for the under-18 side.
That has seen some supporters calling for him to receive a first-team call-up.
It’s Jack Maloney who has been the latest young talent to receive playing time, though.
Academy coach Hardyman believes Tarbuck will graduate into the first-team but still has physical progress to make.
He has no doubt he will join the growing list of talent that has made it into the senior set-up, though.
Hardyman said: ‘Guy has asked who is ready to step up? I said it depends on position and he wanted a winger.
‘Bradley Tarbuck will score goals but perhaps isn’t ready physically to come into men’s football.
‘Jack is ready, he can create a goal and score.
‘So he was the best bet at this moment in time.
‘Both players will have a big future at this club.
‘Tarbuck is always likely to score.
‘People see he is scoring and ask about him – and rightly so. He’s an asset.
‘We’ve had 20-odd scouts at games this season.
‘There have been between a dozen and 20 at every game, so we must be doing something right.
‘Our job is to get kids through the system into the first-team squad.
‘There are the Maloneys, Websters, Wallaces, Butlers and Awfords that show our success rate this season.’
The rollercoaster nature of the Academy’s campaign has been summed up by their last two outings.
A severely-depleted squad went down to a 6-1 defeat to MK Dons on Saturday, just weeks after thumping them 5-1.
But with a number of the players with first-team experience back in the equation they defeated Dagenham & Redbridge 2-0 on Tuesday.
Hardyman now wants them to seal a high league placing in their final two games of the campaign.
He said: ‘We had 15 scholars at the start of the season.
‘But for various reasons we were down to seven on Saturday!
‘So we were very light and had to move under-16s up.
‘Six weeks ago we beat MK Dons 5-1 so to go down to a 6-1 defeat is a bit concerning but when you have seven players out any side would struggle.
‘But that still gave other lads experience.
‘We got the boys back yesterday, played Dagenham and beat them 2-0.
‘The season has been a rollercoaster. We had two excellent cup runs – now we have a chance to finish in the top three, if not the top two of the league.’