Pompey boss out to harvest non-league gems
KENNY JACKETT is preparing to plunder the non-league game to harvest talent for Pompey.
The Blues boss believes promising players from outside of the Football League can be shaped into exciting future prospects.
But Jackett underlined the importance of having a knowledgeable recruitment network in place to stay ahead of rivals.
Plans are being drawn up for a development squad to be put in place over the next year, following Michael Eisner’s takeover being completed.
Jamal Lowe and Nicke Kabamba were both recruited from the National League South last term.
And Jackett sees a significant portion of that set up being formed from players from the fifth and six tiers of the game.
He said: ‘A development group is something which has been mentioned for when the new owners come in.
‘It’s not quite there at the moment.
‘We have to work hard and perhaps take on an extra member of staff.
‘We have the area with a good training ground and young players coming through.
‘We can supplement that with loans, even if it is non league.
‘Going into the National League is a very good league, but even going below that.
‘It wouldn’t be ideal but the advantages are the bottom half of the National League and the National League South and north are training part-time.
‘So the players can train with you all week and then play. That’s good.
‘It’s a good thing. They are with you and they feel part of it.
‘They feel involved during the week but then play men’s football.
‘Hopefully, they can do well at that level and then, as they get older, they can start climbing up the ladder.’
Jackett knows a network of contacts has to be in place to ensure available players are brought in – both from the semi-pro game and those released at the highest level.
‘The key to a development squad is the recruitment,’ he said.
‘The recruitment team have to be good, established and one step ahead of others.
‘They need to be aware of who the big clubs are releasing.
‘If you are taking a chance on someone who’s just been released and your giving them a low-level, two-year professional contract, it’s someone, who with the right opportunity, can come back.’
Jackett feels a development squad can also help revitalise Pompey’s youth set-up.
The 55-year-old sees its formation as a factor in ensuring young talent doesn’t get tempted elsewhere by seeing a pathway in place for them to progress.
Jackett added: ‘It will help because you need a development group to run a modern-day academy.
‘If it’s not there the good younger players will look around.
‘Young players at that age always have options of going to different clubs.
‘When they are looking at Portsmouth they want to see a way forward.
‘It’s tough to go from under-18 football straight into the first team.
‘A development group somewhere along the line will help us as a club.’