Jackett’s Juniors ageing well in Pompey play-off push

Matt Clarke led Kenny's Kids to victory at Fleetwood
Matt Clarke led Kenny's Kids to victory at Fleetwood
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Kenny’s Kids have all grown up – albeit following some mature additions.

Back in February, the Blues secured a 2-1 victory at the home of Fleetwood.

If you re-read my previous quotes, I always said that if we were somewhere at the end of March then we were capable of getting on a run

Joe Gallen

Notably, the result was achieved with a Pompey side averaging 22.5 years in age, led by 21-year-old Matt Clarke.

It epitomised the crippling extent of Kenny Jackett’s injury list, his youthful side subsequently producing erratic results.

Not that Joe Gallen ever lost belief.

A Pompey team now bolstered by Brett Pitman, Nathan Thompson, Gareth Evans, Stuart O’Keefe and Oli Hawkins have established a run of 13 points from a possible 15.

The experience is back – as are Pompey’s play-off aspirations.

Gallen said: ‘A few weeks ago we had a lot of injuries and were maybe putting in good but inexperienced players into an experienced situation.

‘Whereas now we have an experienced situation and experienced players have come in.

‘Nathan was suspended for a while, then Brett was out, Gareth was out and along the way we lost Oli for a couple of games and Stuart was out.

‘Since they have all come back at certain times, there has been a momentum swing from Oldham and then with the crowd at home to Oxford.

‘Certainly those players coming back has given us a lot – and a chance.

‘If you re-read my previous quotes, I always said if we were somewhere at the end of March then we were capable of getting on a run and striking, I have said that numerous times.

‘With this club and the crowd, things can change very quickly.

‘Maybe I wouldn’t have thought it after the Blackpool and Gillingham home games but the fact is we were somewhere at the end of March and ended up giving ourselves a chance so we could go on a run.

‘No matter how things were looking, if we were in the top 10 in March we could turn things around with the players coming back and our crowd gaining confidence from the team.

‘We have managed to give ourselves a chance.

‘And I pretty much think it will be in line with having a fully-fit squad.’

Pompey are without hamstring-victim Anton Walkes on Saturday, joining Danny Rose on the sidelines.

Nonetheless, the team which was formerly Jackett’s Juniors possess the experience to extend their improved form.