Pompey '˜project' Ben Tollitt continues to progress

He has been labelled Pompey's '˜little project'.

Wednesday, 23rd March 2016, 6:30 am
Ben Tollitt. Picture: Joe Pepler

And Ian Foster is convinced Ben Tollitt possesses the delicious potential to carve out a Football League career.

The right-winger has made 14 appearances and scored once since he was plucked from Evo-Stik League Northern Premier side Skelmersdale United.

His most recent outing was as a 68th-minute substitute for Kyle Bennett in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Mansfield.

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Paul Cook handed Tollitt a 12-month contract in July to allow time to mould the former Everton apprentice into an effective professional footballer.

So far the 21-year-old has demonstrated glimpses of talent in the first team to suggest there is plenty more to come.

And first-team coach Foster has been delighted with the youngster’s ongoing progress.

He said: ‘He’ll get there. Ben is a little project for us, he has a great appetite for the game and is progressing nicely.

‘There are aspects to his game he needs to improve on, which is predominantly out of possession but he is working really hard at that.

‘In possession we know what he’s about. He can go and hurt players with the ball but needs to learn the structure of how we like to play and we are getting that embedded into him.

‘There has been a massive improvement in him since his arrival, 100 per cent.

‘The kid is working really hard in the gym as well. He has put on an awful lot of weight in terms of muscle, which is fabulous for him. There is also diet and nutrition to consider.

‘We are continuing to work on his game understanding and tactical awareness to get him to become the player we all know he can be.

‘Ben probably was guilty of trying a little bit too hard at Yeovil last month and that is the youthful exuberance.

‘He needs to know when to get at his full-back and when he just needs to pop things off with one or two touches.

‘That is what you get with young players, you get that rollercoaster of emotions but he is coming on well.’

Tollitt’s first-team appearances have become more sporadic since the turn of the year.

Field Mill represented only his fifth entry from the bench during that period, while he has also failed to make six squads as Cook on occasions has shuffled his sizeable first-team squad.

In last week’s reserve fixture against Crawley, Tollitt was asked to serve in an unfamiliar position of right wing-back.

Foster’s side ran out 3-2 winners courtesy of goals from Kal Naismith, Michael Smith and Adam May.

Tollitt featured for 81 minutes, weighing in with an assist for Smith with a cross from the right.

And Foster believes it was a change of remit which can also benefit the youngster.

He added: ‘It was different for Ben because we asked him to play as wing-back, which he wouldn’t be used to. But it is great for his development.

‘We didn’t ask him to do too much defending. We left that to Jack Whatmough behind him and it was really pleasing how he performed.’