Academy five futures up in air as High Court finale looms

Jack Maloney
Jack Maloney
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Ben Close in action against Blackpool. Pictures: Joe Pepler

GALLERY: Pompey 0 Blackpool 2

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In two weeks a High Court case should make the future of Pompey much clearer.

And for five members of the Academy it may finally resolve their footballing futures.

Jack Maloney, Nick Awford, George Branford, Liam Triggs and Josh Warren are awaiting news on whether they will be offered terms to become first-year professionals.

It’s a procedure normally conducted in mid-February, allowing those not taken on the time to find other clubs.

As it is, Pompey are in administration and uncertain over budgets they can operate within – leaving them unable to offer contracts.

Therefore the quintet nervously wait to discover if they will be retained.

Of thoe second-year professionals, Adam Webster has moved into the first team while James Hartson has been released.

In addition, Kane Cook is currently out with a second-successive shoulder injury.

The Academy are now asking for FA approval to extend his scholarship for a few months in order to take a considered decision.

Head of Academy coaching, Paul Hardyman, said: ‘The frustrating thing about this is it’s bad news for the kids, who ideally by now would have been told so they can focus on the rest of their footballing career one way or the other.

‘But we cannot make these decisions until we get a budget from any new owners.

‘Usually we tell lads by the middle of February at the latest.

‘They still have to finish their education with BTEC and NVQ work.

‘But once they finish that they are free to go out on trials if they are not being offered contracts.

‘We told parents in late January that situation wouldn’t be resolved until the club is taken over.

‘We did not anticipate it would be towards the end of the season.

‘I must admit, it has affected one or two of the boys slightly but they have shown tremendous attitude.

‘There have been no moans and groans but deep down it must affect them because time is ticking and they need to know what is happening for the rest of their careers.

‘If the Academy gets a good budget we might want to keep them all.

‘However, if it is cut we may only be able to keep two or three of those.

‘In our meeting with the parents they understood it was out of our hands but you can appreciate they are getting a bit tetchy about it as well.

‘I do think, though, everybody understands why we cannot make a decision.’

Of those awaiting their fates, both Branford and Awford are central midfielders, Warren is a centre half, Triggs is a left-back and Maloney is a winger.

Meanwhile, the Academy host Southend on Saturday at Bognor (11.30am).