Mark Kelly heaped praise on Pompey’s eight new scholars but insisted: This is just the start of the challenge.
Stan Bridgman, Tom Bruce, Harry Kavanagh, Liam Kelly, Haji Mnoga, Leon Pitman, Ethan Robb and Alfie Stanley all penned two-year apprenticeships with the Blues on Thursday.
All are from Portsmouth except for goalkeeper Pitman, who hails from the Isle of Wight. Kelly believes their deals are a reward for their impressive performances for the under-16s and the under-18s last season.
But Pompey’s youth chief has told his troops things are only going to get harder.
He said: ‘They’ve put a lot of hard work in as schoolboys over the years being involved with us at the club.
‘This is the start of their dream and the start of the hard work.
‘The hard work and commitment that has brought them here is only going to continue.
‘It’s only going to get harder.
‘They know the challenges – we’ve been speaking about them a lot.
‘They appreciate what it is and it’s nice they’re all local boys and understand the club.’