Back to Academy duty for Pompey’s rookie duo

Bradley Lethbridge. Picture: Colin Farmery
Bradley Lethbridge. Picture: Colin Farmery
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett

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On Saturday they were fresh faces occupying Pompey’s substitutes’ bench.

Tonight Matt Casey and Bradley Lethbridge will step out at Fratton Park seeking FA Youth Cup progression.

The academy pair were surprise names in the Blues’ squad for the Checkatrade Trophy visit of Northampton.

With Kenny Jackett missing five players through injury, in addition to long-term absentees Jack Whatmough and Milan Lalkovic, he dipped into the youth set-up.

That meant call-ups for Casey and Lethbridge to serve on the bench, although neither were used.

The towering Casey is a central defender in his second year as a scholar, who has appeared 18 times this season.

He lined up for the reserves in last week’s Premier League Cup defeat to Barnsley at Westleigh Park.

Forward Lethbridge is a first-year scholar who has registered 10 goals in 16 outings for the academy during the campaign.

In addition, he has made six appearances for the reserves this season, starting once.

The duo are expected to feature in the academy’s FA Youth Cup clash with Leicester City at Fratton Park (7pm).

And Jackett felt it was right to call both up to his first-team squad at the weekend.

Pompey’s boss said: ‘There were obviously spaces, we had no other senior pros.

‘Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain was playing at Notts County for Oxford City, while Jez (Bedford) and Theo (Widdrington) are also out on loan, so then we are into the youth team.

‘We took one defender Matt Casey and a striker in Bradley Lethbridge, which in the end is very good experience for them to be substitutes for the first team.

‘I hope it gives all of the youth team good encouragement that they can do it.

‘The decision to choose them was maybe positional, it’s quite close between a number of them to be honest with you.

‘From my own point of view, I am looking forward to seeing both of them play in the FA Youth Cup tonight.’

Lethbridge has appeared as a substitute in the previous two FA Youth Cup matches, scoring in the last round against Lewes.

As for Casey, he featured in last season’s run, coming off the bench to play against Newcastle in the third round.

That encounter ended in a 4-1 victory for the Magpies.