Mark Kelly has explained the decision-making process behind Pompey’s latest batch of home-grown professionals and admitted: Others were unlucky to miss out.
Academy trio Alex Bass, Calvin Davies and Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain were this week handed one-year deals to make the step up to the Blues’ first team.
For Brandon Joseph-Buadi, Kaleem Haitham and Liam Sayers it marked the end of their time with the club, as defender Dory Yates was handed an extra six months to show his worth following an injury-hit scholarship.
Other teams higher up the Football League pyramid have the luxury of development squads, allowing players to hone talents until the age of 21.
But with no such facility in place at Pompey, and the demand for success at first-team level so high, tough decisions had to be made with Academy boss Kelly in regular consultation with Blues manager Paul Cook.
That meant deals for youth-team skipper and full-back Davies, goalkeeper Bass and midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Kelly, though, warned fans against drawing comparisons between the latter and his England international brother and father.
He said: ‘Myself and Paul sat down quite a bit and talked about the kids.
‘He has his ideas about the size of his squad next season and implementing people.
‘If the structures were different at the club, though, I might have wanted to have kept everybody on and given them a little bit more time.
‘Unfortunately, we are in League Two and that is not the criterial element.
‘The important thing now moving forward is we look at this development group for the pathway to make sure it is a proper full process.’
As it stands, Joseph-Buadi and Haitham can count themselves ‘unlucky’ to have missed out on pro deals.
Kelly added: ‘People know about Bassy, he has been pushing on a little bit and been on the first-team bench a number of times this season.
‘Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain is Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain – he now needs to go and build a career for himself.
‘Forget family names and family ties it is about him delivering the work he needs to deliver as an individual.
‘He is different to Alex, he is not the same player – he has different attributes and elements but that does not mean they are not effective.
‘Calvin has been impeccable all the way through, he is that kind of character.
‘He is a competitor, has a massive heart and can play – technically he is neat and tidy.
‘Kaleem and Brandon have been a little bit unlucky, they have been excellent and hopefully will go and carve careers for themselves.’
– JEFF MARSHMAN