Mikey Harris has praised Kenny Jackett for giving Pompey’s fledging footballers regular first-team opportunities.
Since taking the helm at Fratton Park, Jackett has put an emphasis on nurturing young blood into his side and he’s not been afraid of giving them giving them a chance in League One.
The Blues boss has given both Adam May and Brandon Haunstrup opportunities.
Meanwhile, Jack Whatmough has been ever-present in the centre of defence, Alex Bass has been made No2 goalkeeper behind Luke McGee, while prized asset Conor Chaplin is banging on the door to form a forward partnership with Brett Pitman.
Jackett also handed a debut to 16-year-old Joe Hancott in the 3-3 draw with Fulham under-21s in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Harris has been delighted with Jackett’s early impact and has urged his players to step up to the challenge if they are given a first-team chance.
He said: ‘Since the gaffer has come in, he’s given the younger lads the opportunity to impress and has played them in the first team.
‘Kenny has been brilliant in terms of integrating all of the squads together.
‘Every first and second-year scholar has had the chance to go and train with the first team at some point or the other.
‘Ken has been superb integrating them and we’re grateful for that pathway.
‘They have been in and trained on occasions.
‘The young lads are able to see that progression for them. That has been fantastic for all of us because the biggest challenge in this game for young players is lack of opportunities.
‘We have said to them if they get the opportunity, they have got to be ready and that they have to take it.’
Jackett brought four new faces to Fratton Park on the transfer deadline day.
Oliver Hawkins, Stuart O’Keefe, Damien McCrory and Matty Kennedy all made last-day switches.
Meanwhile, Tom Davies, Carl Baker, Michael Smith and Nicke Kabamaba leaving – the latter going out on loan to Colchester.
It means that places in Jackett’s starting XI will now be even more competitive, with several expected to start in today’s League One fixture against Rotherham (2.30pm.
But Harris has backed the youngsters who he and Academy chief Mark Kelly helped nurture through the Pompey ranks into the first team to keep their place under Jackett.
He added: ‘The lads have had an opportunity put to them to stay in the team.
‘They have got to put in confident performances.
‘We are sure if they will rise to the challenge.’
– WILL ROONEY