Butler making Blues left-back spot his own

Dan Butler
Dan Butler
Kal Naismith. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Dan Butler has been told: You can be our left-back for the rest of the season.

The 18-year-old has started the past two Pompey matches after being recalled from a loan spell at the Hawks.

His Football League debut ended on a disappointing note when he was caught in possession in the final minute against Hartlepool last weekend to allow them to score their final goal in the 3-1 win.

It put a dampener on an otherwise encouraging performance from the Isle of Wight youngster in a left wing-back role.

Butler bounced back with a strong performance against Notts County on Tuesday night.

It was a display which ensured he stood out favourably among his Blues team-mates.

Such has been his development, Guy Whittingham opted not to offer Jon Harley a new deal earlier this month, a remarkable show of faith.

Now Butler has a regular run in the team and the caretaker boss has every intention of keeping him there for the remainder of the campaign should his fine performances continue.

He said: ‘Dan did a lot better against Notts County and I think left-back is a position that is his to lose.

‘After Hartlepool we showed him on the DVD that when he had the ball he was turning back and passing backwards a bit too much so we encouraged him just to play up the line a bit further.

‘He took that on board and I think he had a decent game against Notts County.

‘We have already gone through the first goal (Notts County) with him, he probably got a bit tight and was muscled off the ball for the throw but he will learn from that.

‘This is a great stage to learn on when you get chucked in at the deep end, as I know, and he has done all right.

‘People like Alan McLoughlin, Andy Awford, myself and Paul Hardyman are talking to him.

‘We know what his strengths and weaknesses are, what his character is like and there has been a lot of support for him.

‘He is a sensible guy and a really good kid. I was encouraged by his performance – and he will get better.

‘He was more nervous Saturday. It is always nerve-wracking when you have that first game stepping up a level.

‘He hasn’t even been a sub. He has come straight into the side and he has had that experience of the first game.

‘He realises he can make it at this level, so has got to push on from there and not be happy at this level and keep pushing himself.’

Butler made 11 appearances in the Blue Square Bet South with the Hawks, winning player-of-the-month trophies for November and December in the process.

They were surroundings he certainly blossomed in, with Academy team-mate Alex Grant replacing him at left-back at Westleigh Park and hoping to follow suit.

Now Butler has joined Jed Wallace, Ashley Harris and Adam Webster in the first-team and Whittingham is looking for them to flourish.

He added: ‘It is up to Dan and whether he can keep stepping up to the mark. That’s the challenge for him – that’s the challenge for Jed Wallace and Ashley Harris.

‘They put the effort in on Tuesday night and we will assess how they are over the next three days.

‘Tuesday was swirling conditions on a heavy pitch. Saturday was the same, so we have to make sure they are right for the next game against Colchester tomorrow.’