Andy Awford has told the club’s crop of young players: Take your chance.
The Pompey Academy boss and popular former Blues skipper has seen Ryan Williams and Adam Webster progress from the youth team ranks already this season, with Sam Magri also closing in on his senior debut.
First-team boss Michael Appleton is prepared to trust in the club’s youngsters, with his threadbare squad stretched to the limit by injuries and the on-going financial uncertainty currently making it impossible to recruit more players.
And Awford believes some of his talented youngsters are ready to stake their claim.
Awford said: ‘All I ever say to the lads is “if you’re good enough, you will get an opportunity”.
‘At the moment, a couple are knocking on the door – maybe through necessity but if the manager didn’t think they were good enough, he wouldn’t use them.
‘As it is, he’s comfortable to put them on the bench and Adam Webster has got on the pitch in recent games.
‘The fact the lads are getting on tells you they are not just there to make up the numbers. He feels they can do a job.’
Aside from Webster and Magri, a healthy crop including Jed Wallace, Dan Thompson, Alex Grant, Ashley Harris, Dan Butler, Elliott Wheeler and George Colson have all impressed for the youth team this season and could well make the step-up before the summer.
Awford said: ‘There are some good footballers within the youth team.
‘Webster and Magri are the two who are closest to it at the moment but it’s not a case of throwing kids on the bench for the sake of it – they’ve got to be good enough.’