Pompey happy with reserve set-up

POMPEY are set to continue with their current reserve-team structure.

Friday, 3rd June 2016, 8:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 12:38 am
Pompeys reserve fixtures last season allowed Jack Whatmough to get his fitness back after a period out with a knee ligament injury Picture: Colin Farmery

And that means no place in a league for the second string in the new campaign.

The Blues are still weighing up how to best get games into their fringe players next season.

No definitive outcome has been reached on that front, but Paul Cook appears content with organising fixtures on an ad-hoc basis.

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Pompey pulled their team from the Final Third Development League 12 months ago, after finishing second out of eight teams the previous campaign.

Instead, games were organised against the likes of Reading, Crawley, Bournemouth and Cardiff.

Chief executive Mark Catlin feels continuing in that vein is the likely way to go.

He said: ‘I think it worked last season. I don’t think there was ever a time when Paul felt he missed the reserve league.

‘If he feels a couple of weeks had gone by and fringe players weren’t playing he’d set up a game.

‘Paul has a fantastic network of managers he gets on well with, so it’s very easy for him to call a reserve game if he feels that is what’s needed.

‘He’s given an opinion and it’s something we’ll discuss in the build-up to the new season.

‘He’s weighing it up at the moment.’

When the Blues were in the reserve league in the 2014-15 season, a fixture backlog due to poor weather led to eight games being played across the final six weeks of the season.

Although there has been no definitive decision, Pompey are aware of having that commitment.

‘There will be reserve-team games,’ said Catlin.

‘Whether we enter a reserve-team league will be up to the manager.

‘There hasn’t been talks yet. It’s a decision for the manager.

‘The problem with a reserve-team league, generally, is how strict it is.

‘There are the constraints you’re under in attending certain games on dates.

‘Managers like the flexibility of picking up the phone and saying they need a game. Can we sort one for Tuesday?

‘They like that flexibility.

‘It’s now a case of modern managers liking to set up games if and when they want.

‘They want that because of the flexibility it provides.’

Catlin feels the concept of reserve-team football has changed immeasurably in recent years, and now bears little resemblance to what it once did.

He added: ‘In the old days it was a proper reserve team.

‘When I was growing up I remember a time West Ham would play at home one week and the following Saturday was a reserve game.

‘That was on a Saturday at Upton Park, and, as a season-ticket holder, you could go and watch the game for free.

‘To me, that’s what I’d define as a real reserve team. You were either in the first team or you were in the reserve team.

‘Now it’s the first-team squad which becomes the reserve team when you’re not playing.

‘It’s completely different.’