THE FATE of Pompey’s second-year scholars will not be impacted by Andy Awford’s first-team departure.
That’s the vow from Academy boss Mark Kelly, following the end of the youth team’s season.
Those discussions have all been held about the who, what and where.Pompey Academy boss Mark Kelly
Kelly watched on with pride as the hosts showed great character to bounce back from three successive losses and end their maiden Merit League 1 campaign on a high on Saturday.
First-year scholar Liam Sayers was the scorer as Pompey clinched a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Southend at Furze Lane.
But it was the future of Sayers’ elder counterparts which came to the fore in the aftermath of the weekend’s curtain-closer.
Asked whether Awford’s departure will affect the decision-making process regarding those who will turn professional at the Blues in the summer, Kelly explained: ‘No, it won’t do.
‘We have had technical board meetings and we have discussed players.
‘A new manager will walk in and have his ideas but you have got to keep a plan of where you are.
‘He is going to take over a structure that was there and tweak it as he goes.
‘But for us, the planning now has to go on as it was.
‘Those discussions have all been held about the who, what and where.
‘Those who are going to turn young pros we are going to give the best chance at this football club.’
As things stand, there are six Pompey Academy players whose time at the club is set to come to an end this summer.
They will each hope they have done enough to prolong their stay with the Blues in the form of a first professional contract – following in the footsteps of recently-crowned League Two apprentice of the year Conor Chaplin.
Defensive trio Chad Field, Brandon Haunstrup and Snorre Nilsen head the list.
Midfielders James Granger and Fahad Rwakarambwe are also up for consideration, as is striker Lewis Gill, who is currently sidelined with a metatarsal injury.
First-year scholar Adam May made his senior bow at Fratton Park in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Bury.
He and goalkeeper Alex Bass, who has featured on the first-team’s bench on several occasions this term, both have a year left on their Academy scholarship, meaning any potential decision on their development is not imminent.
Kelly said: ‘It is a big deal but everyone has to understand where we are and be realistic.
‘I think this year if we look at the first-team environment there have been a lot of professionals at this football club – we have seen a lot of comings and goings.
‘The nucleus of what you want is a smaller squad and bit more of a structure around it.’