Kelly backs young Pompey stars to flourish
Mark Kelly is adamant Pompey's young guns can make their mark on the first team next campaign.
The Blues are preparing for life in League One, for the first time in five seasons, under new boss Kenny Jackett.
The former Millwall and Wolves manager has already outlined his youthful Pompey vision and is ready to hand out more opportunities to the youngsters in and around the squad.
Jackett is also keen to invest time into the Academy, much like new owner Michael Eisner.
The Blues have a number of youngsters who are on the verge of gaining a regular place in the first team.
Conor Chaplin is beloved by the Fratton faithful and is viewed as one of the club’s prized assets.
The 20-year-old scored eight goals in 42 appearances and helped Pompey lift the League Two crown last term.
Last month home-grown talent Jack Whatmough penned a new two-year contract to extend his stay at Fratton Park.
Ben Close and Brandon Haunstrup have also inked one-year deals, each with the option of a further 12 months.
Kelly has nurtured all of the aforementioned as juniors and was a big part in making them the players they are today.
The Blues’ Academy boss reckons Chaplin and Whatmough, in particular, have a big opportunity.
Kelly said: ‘I’ve watched Jack all the way through and I know what a good footballer he is.
‘When he first burst on to the scene, he was turning everyone’s head.
‘He’s had one or two little injuries but has got over the hurdles in front of him. I’m sure he’s going to have a really strong season and show his worth.
‘He’ll gain massively having a proper pre-season.
‘Conor is still only young and is still developing.
‘He is a natural goalscorer.
‘I’ve been watching him since he was a kid and he has always scored different types of goals.
‘That little bit of consistency will help him going forward.’
Adam May spent last season out on loan at Sutton United, while Close went out to Eastleigh.
The former was part of Sutton’s remarkable FA Cup run that ended with defeat to Arsenal in the fifth round.
Now Kelly is backing the midfielder to kick on next season.
He added: ‘Adam will come back vibrant, I’m sure.
‘He’s a good player and is definitely one for the future.
‘The same can be said for Closey and Brandon.
‘They are good lads and senior football has really stood Adam in good stead.
‘The Cup run was great for him and he went out and established himself at Sutton.
‘It was difficult for him at the beginning but he found his feet.
‘By the end, their management team had nothing but praise for him and said what a great talent he is.
‘Next year, I’m sure Adam will get a foot on the pitch.
‘He will let everybody see what he’s about.’