MARK KELLY has called on Pompey’s apprentices to seize their opportunity and follow the Blues’ proven pathway to professional football.
And the Academy boss has the backing of new manager Paul Cook to stick to the methods that saw the youth team produce two first-team players last term, with a further three handed professional deals.
I have sat down with the boss and we have gone through it and he has exactly the same thought process. If there is one knocking on the door, then let’s get him in and around the first-team squad and working with the professionalsPompey Academy boss Mark Kelly
Conor Chaplin and Adam May, who is now a second-year scholar, both forced their way into the senior set-up before the end of the season.
And their success has been further supplemented by the decision to hand professional deals to Academy graduates Chad Field, Brandon Haunstrup and Snorre Nilsen this summer.
Last week, Pompey announced the signing of eight players, all aged 16, on two-year apprenticeships.
Jez Bedford, Harvey Bradbury, Nick Hall, Kyle McDowell, Ousman Saidy, Tommy Scutt, Eddie Wakley and Theo Widdrington inked agreements to join the club on a full-time basis.
The group, which falls under the remit of under-18s coach Mikey Harris, was further supplemented by Cameron Green, Harry Tumber and Sam Woodward, who also put pen to paper on extended-schoolboy terms.
The trio, who are all eligible for match selection, will train with the youth team twice a week.
And Kelly believes the Academy’s success stories will act as inspiration and motivation for the latest batch of teenage recruits.
He said: ‘Inspiration and motivation comes from the success of others who have gone before them.
‘They know that and that is the great thing – you can see that going on around the place.
‘If they (the apprentices) are good enough, then they are going to be pushed.
‘I have sat down with the boss and we have gone through it and he has exactly the same thought process.
‘If there is one knocking on the door, then let’s get him in and around the first-team squad and working with the professionals.’
Kelly, has warned the apprentices that while they can expect a warm welcome, the path to becoming Pompey professionals will not come easy.
And he has called on the promising youngsters to fulfil their potential by demonstrating the on-field consistency that can only be found by hours of hard work on the training ground.
He said: ‘Training and the hard work starts now.
‘Our second-year scholars are very well versed so they have got some good role models already within the camp to learn from.
‘Also, our young professionals moving forward will work with the group as well.
‘But we talk a lot about self-regulating, and it’s up to them now to progress – only their hard work and hard efforts are going to get them there.’