Mark Catlin: Clubs have been interested in Pompey’s Conor Chaplin

Conor Chaplin. Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin. Picture: Joe Pepler
Jamal Lowe has adjusted well to the additional responsibilities placed on him by Kenny Jackett this season

Lowe’s on the defensive at Pompey

  • Chaplin has penned a contract tying him to Pompey until the summer of 2018
  • Youngster has scored five times in 18 appearances for the Blues
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Mark Catlin has revealed Conor Chaplin has been attracting interest from rival clubs.

But the Blues chief executive insists it was ‘relatively easy’ to get the highly-regarded youngster to commit himself to the club until 2018.

To keep your young talent that has come through the club and lock them in for a substantial period of time is a fantastic coup

Mark Catlin

The 18-year-old has enjoyed an eye-catching start to the campaign with four goals in nine appearances.

That blossoming progress prompted Pompey to this week seal a new deal with Chaplin, despite having potentially two years remaining on his existing contract.

The scouts have already begun to gather, with Liverpool having a representative at the Kassam Stadium last weekend.

Yet Catlin is delighted to have secured the forward on a long-term deal.

He said: ‘Conor has come in, done everything asked of him, his goal ratio is superb and at any level if you’ve got someone who scores goals they attract a huge premium.

‘There has been a bit of interest.

‘No firm bids but we know who comes to watch games, we pretty much know through the grapevine who they are watching.

‘It is fair to say there has been a lot of interest in him.

‘I say again, there has not been a firm offer, he is still young, still learning his trade and you wouldn’t expect that at the moment.

‘The number of scouts is actually a good barometer of how well you are doing.

‘The better we are doing the more scouts we are getting every week – and from higher divisions – so we get anything from 15 to 25 scouts a game.

‘To keep your young talent that has come through the club and lock them in for a substantial period of time is a fantastic coup.

‘It wasn’t really difficult at all. Conor had already said publicly he wanted to stay and all the feedback we got from him and his agent backed that up.

‘Obviously it was an improved deal for him and we have the added bonus that it’s for three years.

‘It shows how highly regarded Conor is at the club and obviously I take my lead off the manager.

‘It was vital we locked him in and didn’t leave ourselves exposed.’

Pompey’s last youth product tempted away from Fratton Park was Jed Wallace to Wolves in the summer.

The Blues were always susceptible to a £275,000 clause in the midfielder’s deal which drove his departure.

In Chaplin’s case, Catlin insists the club were in a stronger position to negotiate.

He added: ‘With Jed we were always on the back foot.

‘He was in the last year of his contract from when we came out of administration.

‘Conor obviously had longer to go on his deal, so everything was a lot more relaxed.

‘From the second Paul said to me and Tony Brown “we’ve got to get this lad signed up for a longer period” it was relatively easy, a matter of a week or two, that quick.’