Kelly excited by Pompey development squad plans

Pompey Academy chief Mark Kelly. Picture: Paul Jacobs (142967-5)
Pompey Academy chief Mark Kelly. Picture: Paul Jacobs (142967-5)
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Jamal Lowe. Picture: Mark Robinson

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Mark Kelly has backed Pompey’s blueprint to launch a new development squad.

And the Academy chief is excited about the plans coming to fruition.

As reported by The News, chief executive Mark Catlin confirmed the Blues’ vision for a fully-funded conduit between the Academy and first team.

It is to be introduced as part of Michael Eisner’s commitment to developing young talent.

The previous development squad was scrapped by Richie Barker in 2014.

However, Pompey want to bridge the gulf between the Academy and the Fratton Park first-team to ensure talent does not slip through the net.

Just Theo Widdrington and Jez Bedford were given first-team contracts this summer. Those released included striker Harvey Bradbury, who has subsequently signed for Watford.

Kelly admitted tough decisions have to be made when youngsters come to the end of their scholarships.

However, the Academy boss feels a development squad will give young guns more time to progress.

‘It’s a pathway that will need to happen,’ he said.

‘A development squad means continuity.

‘It gives us the transitional period where we can keep assessing players for a bit longer before making decisions. It will happen but like everything we’ve got to get some real structures in place and plan for it.

‘We need to let it build and allow it to grow.

‘It is a very vibrant and exciting time for us.

‘Sometimes hard decisions have to be made but a development squad will give us significant breathing space and allow us to plan.

‘We are pushing for it to happen.’

Despite not having a development squad, Pompey’s under-23s exceeded expectations in the Premier League Cup last season.

Mikey Harris’ men beat Everton and Norwich City on the way to the semi-final where they were knocked out by Swansea City.

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett plans delve into the non-league game to help supplement a future development squad.

Jamal Lowe and Nicke Kabamba moved to P04 last season.

Kelly is proud of the under-23s’ efforts in the Premier League Cup and feels a development squad will allow the Blues to harvest more talent like the former Hemel Hempstead duo.

He added: ‘We’ve got some very good young footballers at this club.

‘The job for us is to produce players who are humble and can come through.

‘Everton under-23s came with a massive reputation and the boys stepped up.

‘Teams in the competition had a certain arrogance when they got off the bus – they didn’t have it when they left!

‘If you’re recruiting, you want to find lads like Jamal and Nicke and give them time to grow.

‘That’s what the development squad will bring.’