Jackett: Portsmouth’s powerful message to youngsters

Haji Mnoga has offered hope to fellow Pompey Academy players. Picture: Joe Pepler
Haji Mnoga has offered hope to fellow Pompey Academy players. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Haji Mnoga’s first-team elevation delivers a powerful message to Blues’ promising youngsters.

That’s the message from Kenny Jackett, after putting his faith in the second-youngest debutant in Pompey post-war history.

The 16-year-old Mnoga featured at right-back in Tuesday night’s 1-0 victory over Crawley in the Checkatrade Trophy.

He represents the latest product of Mark Kelly’s prolific Academy production line.

And Jackett feels the newest emergence can provide hope for other youngsters in Pompey’s thriving youth set-up.

He said: ‘I felt it was the right thing to do in terms of a right-back giving me the ability at the start of the game to rest my whole back four from Saturday, which I felt I needed.

‘Also, it’s backing up the likes of Mark Kelly and our youth department to give all the boys there some encouragement

‘If they do do well enough and are good enough then they can get through.

‘I wanted to encourage and I did feel, from what I have seen so far, that Haji deserved that. Also, until you do put them in, sometimes you never know.

‘I see certain qualities in him. I also still see a long way to go in terms of being the player and the person he can be.

‘But I always believe until you actually give somebody a chance you never know.

‘He did fine. It’s about keeping his feet on the floor now and making sure he is dedicated enough to make the most of the high amount of talent he has.’