Harris' pride at duo's Pompey impact

Pompey have reached the final 16 of the Premier League Cup.

Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 6:00 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:04 am
Jez Bedford

And two current Academy players were at the heart of the decisive victory.

Heartening for Mikey Harris, who these days doubles up his duties as under-18s coach with overseeing the reserves.

A 2-1 triumph against Everton under-23s on Monday night ensured Pompey topped Group D.

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Along the way they also defeated Norwich and Wolves to book a spot in the knockout section of the competition.

Among those who lined-up against Everton at Westleigh Park were promising pair Theo Widdrington and Jez Bedford.

Bedford, an attacking midfielder, has started the last six reserve fixtures as he continues to impress.

As for Widdrington, a centre-half or central midfielder, he has dipped in and out of the team.

The duo are in the second year of their apprenticeships as they bid for professional terms.

And Harris believes the reserves have been crucial in their ongoing development.

He said: ‘For a Category Three, League Two club to get through the qualifying rounds and then progress through the group stages against the quality of Everton, Norwich and Wolves is a great achievement.

‘It has been fantastic for a number of reasons.

‘The first-team players have been given minutes in high-quality, high-tempo games, while young lads have stepped up to play with senior professionals.

‘It provides that bridge between the Academy and first-team and it’s been a great competition for us.

‘It was great to see two current youth-team players starting against Everton and doing themselves justice in a difficult game.

‘I don’t like to single players out, but I think Jez and Theo both did well and justified their selection in the team.

‘We always talk about how if you want to progress from the Academy into the first-team the key word is consistency.

‘When you challenge at different levels you have to be consistent in your performance – and I feel throughout the competition the lads stepping up from the youth-team have done just that.

‘We believe in the quality of the players in that gap between the ages of 18 and 23 and it’s great to have a platform to challenge themselves against some of the best under-23 teams in the country.’

Bedford and Widdrington are back in Academy action on Saturday.

The side head to Northampton in Merit League Two.