Kelly: Academy balancing act to be struck

Pompey Academy boss Mark Kelly Picture: Neil Marshall
Pompey Academy boss Mark Kelly Picture: Neil Marshall
Pompey's goalscorer Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey 1-0 Bury: match ratings

  • Pompey Academy boss Mark Kelly eager to strike balance between opportunity and overexposure
  • Some Blues youngsters have played nearly 60 games leading to concerns of burnout
  • Youth team end their Merit League 1 season on Saturday with visit of Southend
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MARK KELLY has spoken of his desire to strike the right balance between opportunity and overexposure for his Pompey Academy players and admitted: It’s tough.

The Blues’ youth-team boss oversaw an improved display from his side in Tuesday afternoon’s 1-0 Merit league 1 loss to Peterborough – just days after the weekend’s 6-0 drubbing at Plymouth.

It is a tough one because you want that balance of getting them (the Academy) that exposure to it (senior football) but then you don’t want them to get overexposed so they are feeling fatigued

Pompey Academy boss Mark Kelly

That heavy defeat followed an emphatic 7-0 reverse at Exeter, leading Academy coach Mikey Harris to raise concerns of burnout within the camp.

Some Academy players have played nearly 60 games this season – a figure both Harris and Kelly accept is too many.

The latter was honest in his appraisal of the situation, though, with extenuating circumstances blamed.

He said: ‘There has been a big ask (of the Academy players this season).

‘They have played a lot of football and they have done a lot of travelling.

‘It’s been a little bit frustrating that some of them have played about 10 games too many – which is a lot when you are young and you are trying to develop.

‘But we know that it is circumstantial.

‘Unfortunately, one thing you can’t dictate is the fixtures and what happens to the first team-squad.’

‘Back-to-back development league games, where games have been called off through weather or for whatever reason – means you get a fixture backlog.

‘The injury list of the first-team squad has also meant they have had to wrap a few more up in cotton wool who would have gone out and played in those games.

‘It is a tough one because you want that balance of getting them (the Academy) that exposure to it (senior football) but then you don’t want them to get overexposed so they are feeling fatigued.

‘We are trying to get that pathway right, because when the boys have all been together and played in those reserve games they have got an awful lot out of it.’

Kelly was quick to praise the bouncebackability of the Blues’ youngsters in Tuesday’s narrow defeat to the Posh.

A late penalty proved to be the dominant home side’s downfall as they were edged out at Furze Lane.

He said: ‘The boys had a big disappointment at the weekend which a lot of them took personally.

‘They know when they have done well and they know when they haven’t hit the their own targets.

‘It needed a reaction from them and watching the game (against Peterborough) they certainly gave that.

‘They had control but were guilty of lacking a little something in the final third.

‘On another day, we would have won the game 4-0 or 5-0.’

Pompey Academy will complete their Merit League 1 division campaign with the visit of Southend this Saturday (midday).