From Pompey apprentice to record holder - in seven weeks

Joe Hancott was 16 years and 161 days when he made his Pompey debut in the Checkatrade Trophy against Fulham Under-21s on Wednesday night Picture: Joe Pepler
Joe Hancott was 16 years and 161 days when he made his Pompey debut in the Checkatrade Trophy against Fulham Under-21s on Wednesday night Picture: Joe Pepler

Jackett: Fourth place now open to Pompey

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It was seven weeks ago when Joe Hancott signed apprenticeship forms with Pompey.

Lastnight, the highly-regarded left-back was handed his first-team debut.

Pompey unveiled their latest crop of first-year apprentices, including Joe Hancott, front row second right, at the end of June

Pompey unveiled their latest crop of first-year apprentices, including Joe Hancott, front row second right, at the end of June

In the process, the lad from Ryde established himself as the youngest player in the club’s history.

It has been a high-octane ride for Hancott, who at the end of June was among eight players to sign first-year apprenticeship forms.

On the Blues’ books since the age of eight, he turned out for Mikey Harris’ under-18s in a 4-3 defeat to Swindon on August 6.

Then arrived Kenny Jackett’s call to line up against Fulham under-21s in the Checkatrade Trophy.

He has always been a very, very solid, dependable left-back and that is what he showed against Fulham under-21s

Mikey Harris

At the age of 16 years and 161 days, he has surpassed Gary O’Neil as the club’s youngest debutant – by 95 days.

Pride once more for the Academy set-up which continues to flourish under the guidance of Mark Kelly and coach Harris.

And both were present at Fratton Park to witness the historic moment.

Harris said: ‘I remember coaching Joe when he was in the under-12s and I was here in a part-time capacity.

‘He has always been a very, very solid, dependable left-back and that is what he showed against Fulham under-21s.

‘Joe came on at left-back for 13 minutes at Poole in pre-season and didn’t disgrace himself there either. It was for a shorter period of time, but he is a solid lad and last night gave a very assured performance for a 16-year-old.

‘He’s emotionally very stable and, speaking to him before the game, I think he was excited, nervous, all those things you get when making your debut. Possibly even more so when you are 16.

‘It took him a little bit of time to find his feet and grow into the game, but he will massively benefit from the experience.

‘We wish Tareiq Holmes-Dennis all the best with his recovery, that goes without saying. Football is football, though, and that opened up an opportunity for Brandon Haunstrup.

‘I went to the Oxford game and he did brilliantly, I thought he was excellent, and the next one in line was Joe. The gaffer was brave enough to give him the opportunity against Fulham.

‘It shows whether you are a first year or second-year apprentice, if an opportunity arises and the gaffer feels you are capable of stepping in then he will play you.

‘That’s a fantastic message for the Academy boys. The most important thing is seeing a pathway for yourself at the football club – and that was shown Wednesday night.’

Pompey’s Academy are scheduled to play Yeovil at Furze Lane tomorrow – and it remains to see whether Hancott returns.

After all, Haunstrup will be back in the first-team for the League One visit of Walsall on the same day.

Harris added: ‘It’s fantastic making your debut and finishing the game, but one swallow doesn’t make a summer.

‘Now it’s important Joe has a career in the game – hopefully that will be at this football club.’