Friendships put aside as Pompey Academy aim for Man City upset

Mikey Harris
Mikey Harris
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Mikey Harris and Jason Wilcox last month stood side-by-side in a classroom at St George’s Park.

The duo had been paired together to host a presentation on the four corner model, as part of their FA Advanced Youth Award.

Jason Wilcox

Jason Wilcox

It was an obvious partnership, having struck up a lasting friendship during a Uefa A Licence course four years earlier.

Yet tonight the duo will be rivals as Pompey’s Academy take on Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup (7pm).

The Fratton Park encounter pitches the Blues’ under-18 boss against his Premier League counterpart – ex-England winger Wilcox.

No longer are they on the same side, the close friends are gunning to outdo each other to progress in the prestigious tournament.

Jase is a great lad, a very talented coach and former international player who I have a huge amount of respect for, not only as a coach but as a person

Mikey Harris

Harris said: ‘Jase and I did our A Licence together some years ago and have stayed in touch ever since.

‘At that point I was Salisbury City’s assistant manager, while he had started working for Manchester City’s under-14s on a part-time basis.

‘He has since worked his way up to the under-18s role, it’s a great job and I know he’s enjoying it.

‘That first meeting was at Wokefield Park, in Berkshire, and despite being in opposite ends of the country we have kept our friendship.

‘We got on really well on that A licence course.

‘Jase is a great lad, a very talented coach and former international player who I have a huge amount of respect for, not only as a coach but as a person.

‘At the start of last month – a week before the draw – we had to work on a project together at St George’s having been paired together.

‘It involved carrying out a presentation on the four corner model to the rest of the group. Now we have to face each other, which is a bit of a strange one and quite amusing!

‘I remember when arranging this game with Jase he said something about having a Champions League fixture the week before and I responded about what a difficult life he must lead! It must be so troubling to deal with such things!

‘He is a good guy and I’m looking forward to seeing him tonight.’

Manchester City presently top the Premier League under-18s North Group table.

They have lost twice this season and beat Derby 7-2 in their most recent outing on December 5.

Tonight they visit Fratton Park as Harris’ talented youngsters seek to inflict an upset.

He added: ‘They are one of the richest clubs in the world so why not invest huge amounts in your Academy and produce players? I wish them all the best, it’s great to see investment in young players.

‘They got to the final last year and lost to Chelsea. I am sure Jase will be keen to go one further this time around. He has a very talented squad.

‘I know bits and bobs about them, but for me it is more about us and we’ve got to try to stick to our principles and beliefs to get a positive result.

‘We have awareness of their strengths and weaknesses – if they have any – and will do our best to exploit them.’