DAN THOMPSON bagged an 18-minute hat-trick against Gosport Borough on Tuesday night – by the end of the match he had netted four times.
The teenager was the star performer in the Pompey development group’s 4-1 victory at Privett Park.
And all in front of Blues boss Michael Appleton.
Not that Thompson can expect such a feat to provide the crowbar for breaking into the first-team squad.
The sold-out signs have long been hung out. No room at the inn, no vacancies, don’t apply within.
Such are Football League stipulations for a club in administration, Pompey squad numbers are at the maximum.
Appleton is allowed to register 20 players for first-team duty – and 20 players is what he has.
It means, for the likes of Thompson and other promising youngsters, the route into the squad is currently barred.
Granted, they can train with the seniors during the week, yet they remain unavailable for match-day selection.
It’s a rule which was enforced after the Capital One Cup visit to Plymouth back in August. On that occasion, Thompson was among nine debutants in senior football.
Such was the situation at the club at the time with no other players signed on, special dispensation was granted.
Days later, the 20-man squad rule was enforced by the Football League for the League One opener against Bournemouth.
And ever since Thompson & Co have played only in reserve friendlies.
It’s a frustrating scenario for everyone, according to development group boss Guy Whittingham.
He said: ‘Unfortunately, the rules mean the young lads can’t get in the first-team squad at the minute.
‘There’s Dan, Jed Wallace and one or two of the others that might have featured on the bench, especially when we didn’t have the numbers. But with the position we are in we cannot do that.
‘We are at the stage now where, for their development, they need to go out and get some games.
‘Hopefully, we will get some teams interested in taking them on loan for a period.
‘In the meantime, they have been training with the first team, which has been great for them.
‘The manager has been great at allowing them all to join in and will adjust his sessions to it.
‘Now we are looking to them to go and play in a team where it really matters what the result is.’
Former Hampton & Richmond striker Thompson arrived at Fratton Park in January. And Whittingham is seeing an improvement in the 18-year-old.
He added: ‘I think, probably, Monday was one of the best displays I have seen Dan put on for us.
‘It was not only his goals but he put himself about, his touch was a lot better, his vision was a lot better, his passing was a lot better. I think that was a big improvement.
‘You have to remember he is a young kid. He’s come out of non-league and then went back into non-league on loan, so really we’ve only had him from July.
‘It has been pleasing but like the rest of them he has a long way to go.’