Pompey Academy are already planning for next season.
That is the admission from Blues under-18s coach Mikey Harris after he gathered his first-year scholars and under-16 players together for a worthwhile friendly at Barnet last weekend.
To have them together as a squad for a decent game in January is a good thing to be able to doPompey Academy coach Mikey Harris
With qualification to the Merit League assured, Harris was keen to make the most of an enforced break at the end of his side’s Youth Alliance League south west division campaign.
That saw an inexperienced Pompey side battle to a 1-1 draw at the Bees as Harris cast an eye to next term.
He said: ‘It was good to get the under-16s who are going to be next season’s first-year scholars together with this season’s first-year scholars.
‘Effectively, they are going to be the youth-team group for next season.
‘To have them together as a squad for a decent game in January is a good thing to be able to do.
‘It gives us a little bit of a headstart going into next season.
‘We can start to establish relationships within the team.
‘We can also start to esdtablish expecatations they have of us, we have of them and they have of each other.
‘Hopefully it will give them an advantage coming into pre-season in July – feeling a bit more comfortable in the environment and a bit more clued in to what it is about.’
With goalkeeper Alex Bass the only second-year scholar in action, the onus was on the youngsters to show what they could do as Harris’ side made the most of the grass surface afforded to them.
‘In terms of the game itself, it was a good, competitive game,’ said Harris.
‘We managed to play on grass which is great considering the weather we have been having and the difficulty teams are having to get games on grass at youth-team level.
‘We went 1-0 up in the first half through Dan Smith and were pretty dominant throughout.
‘Then we actually had two goals disallowed for offside in the second half, both of which looked onside!
‘They were a bit dubious but then to be fair to Barnet they equalised with a very good goal to make it 1-1.
‘We weren’t really concerned about the result, we had roll-on, roll-off subs.
‘Everyone had a minimum of an hour which was great.’
Pompey Academy return to competitive action later this month in the Merit League.
Having earned a top-half finish in the Youth Alliance League south west division, they will now battle it out against the best teams from the neighbouring south east division.
But with a number of the Blues’ second-year scholars out on loan, the emphasis will be on the younger members of the squad stepping up.
– JEFF MARSHMAN