Big-hitting Brandon's scaling Pompey leaderboard

Amid the dying embers of the expired season, Amendoeira Golf Resort provided an alluring host.

Friday, 22nd June 2018, 2:12 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd June 2018, 6:58 pm
Brandon Haunstrup has signed a two-year deal at Fratton Park

The Algarve welcomed Pompey's weary quartet, young footballers savouring mid-May respite following a campaign's gruelling endeavours.

Matt Clarke, Brandon Haunstrup, Ben Close and Alex Bass embody the present and the future at Fratton Park.

Within the past six months and six days, all have been secured on fresh Blues deals, the club eager to retain its brightest talent.

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Clarke, of course, represents the prized asset '“ the multi-award-winning defender who undoubtedly remains susceptible to suitors during these summer months.

The trio with which he has forged such a close bond are products of Pompey's youth set-up, differing in first-team productivity but demonstrating encouraging capability.

Close registered 45 appearances in an impressive personal season, while Bass ended the campaign in goal, marking his Football League debut.

As for Haunstrup, there were 20 first-team outings '“ and now two contracts in six weeks.

It was upon the announcement of Pompey's retained list when it was revealed the club had taken up the option of an additional 12 months on the left-back's deal.

Worthy reward for the 21-year-old who blossomed as Kenny Jackett's maiden season at the helm progressed, largely only injury inhibiting more first-team visits.

Yet the Blues boss felt Haunstrup warranted a more convincing show of faith from the club during his ongoing development, culminating in the two-year deal awarded this week.

The summer has witnessed Lee Brown's arrival from Bristol Rovers. He's clearly earmarked for Pompey's regular left-back role considering his experience and highly-regarded reputation.

It swells Jackett's options, joining Dion Donohue and Haunstrup in the battle to claim the role in a forthcoming campaign designed to produce a stronger promotion push from League One.

For the Waterlooville youngster, realistically, Brown's signing signifies a slip down the rung, out-muscled from the increased scramble for places.

Regardless, Jackett's two-year vote of confidence offers reassurance, if any is required, that Haunstrup possesses a promising future at Fratton Park, irrespective of a potentially-reduced first-team presence next term.

The former Crookhorn College pupil admirably rebounded from an uncomfortable time against future Blues team-mate Matty Kennedy in a Carabao Cup defeat at Cardiff in August.

He was subsequently present during a run of five wins in six fixtures at the tail-end of 2017 which inflated hopes of a sustained play-off challenge.

While two starts and a substitute outing in the final three matches of the campaign signified a return to the fold following injury and despite the growing influence of rival Donohue.

Jackett values Haunstrup's ability to raid the left-flank and effectiveness in delivering crosses, while defensively he continues to develop at a good rate.

Increased competition this season may dictate a fall in first-team appearances compared to last season's career-best haul.

Perhaps a loan spell away from Fratton Park may suit in the meantime, we'll see.

It was Bass who emerged victorious in that Portuguese golfing skirmish.

But big-hitting Haunstrup continues to impressively scale that Pompey leaderboard.