KENNY JACKETT believes Pompey have to learn the lessons from his squad’s shortcomings.
The Blues boss feels he will need a bigger selection of players with more experience if his side are to be competitive moving forward.
Jackett admitted his team has not had enough experience to maintain a powerful play-off bid since the turn of the year.
Pompey will again send out a youthful side to face Gillingham today, with their age averaging 22.5 in the past two outings.
Jackett feels more men aged between 24 and 28 have to be added to give the right blend of youth and nous.
He said: ‘It’s very easy to get young quickly in this division. That’s not just us.
‘Generally, there has to be a base of young, hungry players who are keen to prove themselves. You do look after the club and work to the future very well then.
‘I look at the teams, teams who are doing well, players who are doing well and then the combinations. I look at where the age bracket towards the winning equation is and where’s the balance.
‘Bigger squads, too. We need a bigger squad. We need to work out a way next year to have more players.
‘We hope we don’t lose as many, but need a bigger squad at the right stage with the right experience. We need to learn from it (the injuries) and have a slightly bigger squad.
‘Also, if you look at people like Ben Close, they would’ve had a few more league games so it will naturally happen.
‘I hope Donohue, Hawkins, Close, McGee and others who can go from X amount of games to Y become quite established in the division.
‘They will have a good foothold and take on what’s needed.
‘You can add the right players and your own players come on. You need to get them in the right age bracket.
‘There’s always league games but age bracket is quite a big thing as well.
‘If you can plan these things and get a fair bit of luck in the course of the season you can keep improving.
‘We’ve needed more, needed more in the middle (age bracket), definitely – 23 or 24 to 28. We need to get more into that, if we can.’
Jackett is operating with 22 players at present, topped up with four young pros on the fringes of his squad. Seven of those men are injured or suspended, though.
The Pompey boss believes 24 is his optimum number to work with.
He added: ‘Next season it’s 24 players. That’s 24 pros.
‘That’s needs to be 24 pros all ready to play in the first team. That’s what it looks like. If they are young lads who are good enough they are in there. That’s what I’m looking at.
‘If you’re working off a basic 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 as we’ve played all season, you’re looking at three goalkeepers, eight defenders, eight midfield players and five forwards.
‘That’s a good way of planning it with one extra centre-forward and one extra goalkeeper.’