Pompey boss seeking to resolve youth problems

Paul Cook has dispatched his youngsters in a bid to remedy football's '˜biggest crime'.

Wednesday, 2nd November 2016, 9:00 am
Adam May. Picture: Joe Pepler

And he’s hoping extended time away from Fratton Park can bolster his promising players’ development.

Equipped with a bulging 29-man squad, utilising the loan market has become a necessity for the Blues’ boss.

At present, non-league football is supplying regular first-team matches for seven young Pompey players.

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Ben Tollitt (Tranmere) and Adam May and Brandon Haunstrup (both Sutton United) have linked up with National League clubs.

Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain is serving with National League South side Eastbourne Borough, while Alex Bass is at Salisbury.

First-year professional Calvin Davies is back at Bognor, where he impressed last season, in the Ryman League premier division.

And Dory Yates, who has been handed a six-month deal to prove himself following injury problems, is turning out for Dorchester Town.

For Cook, there cannot be a finer grounding for Pompey’s talented seven.

He said: ‘You can’t be a 19 or 20-year-old lad and not be playing regularly, it’s the biggest crime.

‘No matter what you say about reserve games, they are not like first-team games.

‘Without doubt, there are no games like first-team games.

‘Now is a good time to loan out our young players. We are well into the season and out of some competitions.

‘It looks like we will be knocked out of the Checkatrade Trophy, we don’t want to be, a win against Bristol Rovers might put us through.

‘But we feel with the squad we’ve got, the players we’ve got and the amount of times we do 11 v 11 in training and always have men over, there is an importance those lads play.

‘Young lads have so far to go and an issue in football in general is they get near the first team far too quickly. I am talking generally in the game.

‘You are not a first-team player when you have been sub three times – to be a first-team player you have to have played an amount of games.

‘That is why we need our lads to be playing.’

The seven are ineligible for next Tuesday’s visit of Bristol Rovers in the Checkatrade Trophy.

However, they are available for the Premier League Cup – a competition which entails another five fixtures at the group stage.

Cook recently watched Haunstrup and May in Sutton’s 2-2 draw with Maidstone, a match which attracted an attendance of 1,609.

He added: ‘It was just what you would expect from young lads playing their first matches at senior level.

‘They were a little bit rabbit in the headlights with the game very fast but it’s good for them.

‘All our young lads must sustain their places in those teams, that is the big thing for any player out on loan.

‘It doesn’t look the best if you can’t sustain a game somewhere else and are on the bench regularly. You must climb the ladder properly.’