Cook backs defender for bright future

Brandon Haunstrup Picture: Joe Pepler
Brandon Haunstrup Picture: Joe Pepler
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His Pompey first-team presence has been fleeting, while a Football League debut continues to elude.

But Paul Cook is convinced Brandon Haunstrup has a bright Fratton Park future.

The 19-year-old, from Waterlooville, has made four appearances this season – all arriving exclusively in cup competitions.

His involvement in League Two fixtures has been denied by the form and availability of Enda Stevens, who has been an ever-present at left-back.

Regardless, Haunstrup has already been signed up for next term, such is Cook’s faith in the young defender.

And the Pompey boss is impressed by the potential the teenager has demonstrated during a maiden campaign as a first-year professional.

Cook said: ‘Brandon has been very unlucky this season with the form of Enda Stevens.

‘At any given time he could have had a run of games – he will have a run of games.

‘Whenever he has played in the first-team, albeit in cup competitions, he has done great.

‘He is a fantastic young player with a great work ethic towards becoming a better player, and I am sure he will have a bright future.

‘Brandon has that left foot, has the athleticism, has lovely balance and is a good lad who works hard, so a new deal was a no-brainer.

‘The lad can deliver a cross and in modern-day football is very Ashley Cole-like if you know what I mean, that leggy and energetic type.

‘Enda is probably one of our players of the year, he’s had an outstanding first season and will be hard for Brandon to get past.

‘But you must have that competition for places and he is going to have a good career.’

Haunstrup made his debut in the 2-1 Carling Cup victory over Derby in August, lining up at left-back.

He also started against Reading in the following round – in addition to September’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy loss at Exeter.

The youngster’s last first-team outing arrived in January, with a late substitute appearance at Ipswich in the FA Cup.

Cook believes Haunstrup requires more game time to aid his development, yet the need to serve as Stevens’ understudy has made it difficult to sanction any loan deal.

‘There has been plenty of interest in Brandon but we leave ourselves very bare with Enda getting injured,’ added the manager.

‘You must do 28 days on loan, so if Brandon was away and Enda got injured we would struggle for a left-back to cover.

‘You would end up mixing and matching with Matt Clarke and Ben Davies going back there, but we like balance with the team so unfortunately Brandon has suffered.

‘He does need to play football, though, so that is something we need to look at pre-season.

‘Clubs have approached us about a loan, one or two around League Two have sniffed around as well as some in the Conference. The kid has a bright future.’