Jackett’s pride at Pompey young guns

Pompey celebrate their second goal. Picture: Mark Robinson
Pompey celebrate their second goal. Picture: Mark Robinson
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Kenny Jackett spoke of his Pompey pride after his youthful side claimed victory at Fleetwood.

Injuries and unavailability forced the Blues boss to field a team with an average age of 22.5 years.

In terms of wanting to play, wanting to wear the shirt, wanting to do well for the club, there’s a lot of ability there

Kenny Jackett

Installed as skipper for the Highbury Stadium clash was Matt Clarke, aged 21 years, four months and 30 days.

Meanwhile, the substitutes’ bench consisted of four teenagers, including current Academy player Dan Smith.

Regardless of the squad’s inexperience, Pompey claimed a 2-1 win – with Jamal Lowe and Oli Hawkins netting.

It was only a second victory of 2018 for the Blues, who now lie two points adrift of the League One play-offs.

And Jackett was delighted with how the youngsters rose to the challenge.

He said: ‘The only time it really told, I thought, was perhaps at the end where we needed to run the ball into the corner, maybe slow it down.

‘But it’s not that easy and both Clarke and Burgess, in particular, did the job.

‘I wasn’t concerned about the average age, though, because I felt it was a well-balanced team.

‘For me, I was looking forward to seeing the players. Considering how they trained on Monday, there was lots of energy in the team and they showed that at Fleetwood.

‘They have got good energy, good attitude and I thought there was a real spirit there – something I could also feel on the training ground.

‘In terms of wanting to play, wanting to wear the shirt, wanting to do well for the club, there’s a lot of ability there.

‘You can talk about the future but it also has to be about now – and the players want it now. You can’t talk about years to come.

‘If they can hold their own now then they will improve as time goes on, that’s the most important thing.

‘It’s no good not being good enough right now and looking to the future, you won’t ever build any confidence.

‘But if they can perform like that last night – adding one or two experienced players back to even give us more options on the bench – then that would really help us.’

Pompey are now ninth in League One – two points off sixth-placed Charlton. The Blues have stayed in touch with the play-off places – despite taking only eight points from 27 so far during 2018.

Next are Blackpool, who will visit Fratton Park on Saturday.

The Tangerines are situated in 17th and now come up against a Blues side encouraged from victory at Fleetwood.

Jackett added: ‘We needed the win last night because chasing that top six is a big thing and the games are running out.

‘Hopefully it boosts the players’ confidence moving forward and promotes the visit of a good Blackpool side on Saturday.

‘We showed a lot of ability last night and overall deserved to win.’