Alex Grant has been told to follow Dan Butler’s lead and carve out a Football League future.
Hawks manager Lee Bradbury believes his latest loan starlet is making great strides during his spell at Westleigh Park.
He sees a Football League future for Grant, 19, and hopes his non-league learning curve will help him map out a path into the Pompey first-team fold.
The blueprint for that has already been laid down after Butler, 18, earned rave reviews during his loan spell with Hawks earlier this season.
He then returned to Pompey and has quickly made the left-back berth his own in League One.
Now the signs are Grant can do the same after he put in an excellent performance for Hawks in the 3-0 win over Sutton on Saturday.
Bradbury said: ‘Alex has been good for us and probably had his best game against Sutton.
‘Since being with us he has become far more composed on the ball and gained in confidence.
‘What Dan Butler did shows what a few months with us can do for a young player.
‘Conference South is a tough, physical league with a lot of talented footballers on the scene.
‘It does the youngsters good to step out of Academy and youth football and play against men.
‘Alex must be looking to follow Dan Butler’s example but first will need to serve his apprenticeship at this level.
‘He needs to work hard over the next two or three months and continue ticking the boxes.’
Highly-rated striker Ollie Palmer showed his faith in the club by signing a new two-and-a half-year deal ahead of the Sutton match.
He then bagged two goals in the victory and Bradbury is delighted to keep hold of his leading goalscorer – particularly after a number of Football League clubs showed an interest during the first half of the season.
Colchester United made a bid at the tail end of the transfer window but the Hawks labelled it ‘derisory’.
Bradbury is convinced Palmer has made the right move in committing to extend his stay.
‘Ollie has been great and is so willing to learn – taking everything on board,’ said Bradbury.
‘He is more than just goals, though, because he is a team player who works really hard.
‘The lad is a handful to opposition defenders. He is physically strong and quick.
‘He wants to learn more and I am pleased that he believes he can do that here with myself and Shaun Gale (assistant boss).
‘It is a good deal for him and the club.
‘It is my job to try and improve players and we will always try and be fair with them.
‘If the players develop and do well then the club will do well.’
The Hawks face a difficult test at Dover Athletic on Saturday, before hosting relegation battlers Billericay at Westleigh Park next Tuesday.