Harris reflects on year of positives for Pompey Academy

Pompey Academy celebrate after scoring against Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup   Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Pompey Academy celebrate after scoring against Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Milan Mandric, left, with Steve Claridge during his unveiling as manager in 2000

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POMPEY ACADEMY coach Mikey Harris reflected on 2015 and insisted: It has been a very positive year.

The Blues’ under-18 manager has half-a-dozen reasons to be pleased after seeing six of his youngsters earn their first-team debuts in the past 12 months.

That number does not include Conor Chaplin, who has enjoyed a breakthrough year at Fratton Park after he first featured as a substitute in 2014.

The teenage striker has fluorished in the professional game, following the tuition of Harris and Academy boss Mark Kelly in the youth-team ranks.

And his rise to prominence, as well as the Blues’ gutsy 2-1 loss to big-spending Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup are two further special memories held by Harris from 2015.

He said: ‘If you are looking at 2015 as a whole calendar year then the first thing to go back to is Conor making his first start for the club.

‘Him coming through and breaking through into the first team was a big plus.

‘We also had the other boys making their debuts at Exeter (Academy quartet Calvin Davies, Brandon Joseph-Buadi, Kaleem Haitham and Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain all stepped up to senior level for the first time in the 2-0 JPT defeat).

‘And Adam May getting his professional contract (May and Brandon Haunstrup had made their Blues bows earlier in the year) was great.

‘The Man City game was obviously a brilliant way to end the year and that will be something that everyone will remember.

‘Hopefully the lads can now use that as a bit of a platform.

‘And it can act as an inspiration for the younger members of the Academy.’

Harris also hailed the integration of the Academy alongside the first team at the club’s new training base, while outlining the challenge ahead for 2016.

He said: ‘It’s been absolutely massive – to be training in the same place as the first team and to be in constant contact with them and work with them on a day-to-day basis has been great for the lads.

‘We have a good relationship with the first-team boys as has been seen with the mentoring programme – you don’t get that at all clubs.

‘The challenge for us now is to give as many of the second-year scholars as we can the experiences to showcase their abilities and potential to be first-team players at Portsmouth Football Club one day.

‘We appreciate that they are not the finished article – a lot of them.

‘But we feel that there are a lot with potential who could be assets to this football club and hopefully they will prove that in 2016.’

– JEFF MARSHMAN