Pompey Academy return to training next week with a clear message from coach Mikey Harris: Prepare to work even harder in 2015.
The Blues youngsters are enjoying a two-week break from action dating back to their 1-0 Youth Alliance south and west division triumph over Exeter on Saturday, December 21.
And Harris, who allowed his side to tuck into Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, is expecting them to be back ‘chomping at the bit’ in the new year.
Specially-designed health and fitness programmes by sports scientist Aidy Cooke ensures the youngsters will have no excuses for piling on the pounds.
Harris, though, admitted that a break from the Blues’ hectic football schedule is not necessarily a bad thing.
He said: ‘For me, it’s really important that they (the players) get away from football and have a mental break.
‘We have played 20 games in the Academy this season and if you take into account that a lot of the players have also played in the reserve team regularly and in friendly games, that’s a lot of football for 16 and 17-year-old lads.
‘It’s important they are able to have a mental and physical rest and come back chomping at the bit in the new year.
‘They’ve worked hard in 2014 and they’ll be working even harder this year.’
Harris joked that his players should make the most of their extended break as, all things being well, it may never happen again.
And the former Salisbury boss also revealed his ‘strange’ lack of a festive football fix has been a welcome surprise.
Harris said: ‘The players were told to have a Christmas dinner and go and enjoy themselves.
‘Cookie gave the lads an extensive programme to do over the two weeks so they have clear objectives of what we expect of them.
‘But I wanted them to enjoy some time with their family and their friends.
‘Because when they get into the world of first-team football then they have basically got no Christmas!
‘I know what that’s like having been involved in it myself for the last 10 years.
‘It’s been a strange experience for me having Christmas off but I’ve been to watch a couple of games for the gaffer and kept my finger on the pulse.
‘But it’s been a nice change!’
The Academy are back in action on Saturday, January 10, at Bristol Rovers.
Meanwhile, defender Chad Field has signed for Ryman League premier division side Bognor on a youth loan.
The agreement means the 18-year-old second-year scholar will continue to play and train with Harris’ squad while also being available to play for the Rocks and Pompey’s reserve side.