Youth boss urges Magri patience

Sam Magri
Sam Magri
Leam Richardson. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Andy Awford has called for fans to be patient over the development of Pompey starlet Sam Magri.

The youngster is currently on England under-17 duty at the European Championships in Serbia.

He lined-up in Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with France and is poised to keep his place for tomorrow’s clash with Denmark.

It’s little surprise the progress of Magri has caught the eye of many Blues followers.

But Awford believes these are still early days to start making bold statements over the defender’s future.

Football is littered with outstanding young talent who ultimately never fulfil their rich potential.

It is an unfortunate trait of youth football in general that the majority fail to break into the first team environment.

There is nothing to suggest such a fate will befall Magri.

However, aged just 17 with a year’s scholarship at Pompey still remaining, there is clearly still a long way to go.

After taking over as Academy manager in February, Awford has seen plenty of the youngster.

And he is adamant Magri needs to be given time and patience to blossom.

He said: ‘Sam is a level-headed down-to-earth lad who is born-and-bred Pompey and playing for England has put him in the public eye.

‘He is the name on everyone’s lips at the moment in terms of the youth department.

‘But he has a long, long way to go.

‘He is not ready by any means yet. We will see how he goes next season and have a good look at him to see what we say to the gaffer.

‘The lad is still only 17 and has one more year left in the Academy.

‘He is doing okay but has a long way to go.

‘Sam is learning and if he continues to learn who knows?

‘I can’t tell you if he is going to be good enough. All you want is a chance on one and he is one you would hope would have a chance.

‘We will just have to see.’

In the meantime, Magri is bidding for European glory with England.

John Peacock’s side have been drawn in the same group as France, Denmark and Serbia for the eight-team tournament.

In doing so, they have avoided the likes of Germany, Holland, Romania and the Czech Republic, who make up group B.

England kicked off their campaign with a 2-2 draw against France, with Hallam Hope and Nick Powell scoring.

They now play Denmark tomorrow at 2pm at the Karadjordje Stadium, home of FK Vojvodina.

The final match of group A will be against Serbia at 4.15pm on Monday at FK Indjija.

In addition to Magri, the 18-man squad consists of three players from Crewe, one from Charlton and one from Middlesbrough, proving there is young talent outside the Premier League.

Brighton’s Jake Caskey, the son of former Havant & Waterlooville midfielder Darren, is also included.

Interestingly, there is not a single representative from Manchester United, Arsenal or Spurs.

And Awford believes the trip can be hugely beneficial for Magri’s development.

He added: ‘Sam is away with England playing for the under-17s and it will be a great experience for him.

‘There are eight teams, two groups of four, and if they finish in the top three in their group they will qualify for the World Cup in Mexico as well.

‘For him it is a fantastic opportunity to play tournament football and also play against different cultures.

‘If they get to the World Cup, which you would hope England would, to go and play against South Americans would also be fantastic for his education.’