POMPEY’s youngsters have been challenged to rise to the occasion against Everton.
The Blues have a testing assignment against the Toffees’ under-23 team when they open their Premier League Cup group-stage campaign on Monday (7pm).
It’s likely to be a youthful side involved with first-team resources stretched through injury.
Academy coach Mikey Harris, wants to see the players do themselves justice.
He said: ‘It will be a young side. It stretches the boys and gives them the chance to test themselves at the next level up.
‘Hopefully they put in performances they can be proud of.
‘The emphasis doesn’t change. We’re looking for hard work, desire and competitiveness from them.
‘They may be giving away a few years in experience but you want the lads to compete and do their best.
‘We want them to put in a performance they can be pleased and proud of.’
An experienced Pompey side defeated Everton last season on the way to reaching the semi-finals.
There are likely to be a number of under-18 players involved this time around who could go up against players with first-team experience.
Harris added: ‘Everton are one of, if not the best, under-23 side in the country.
‘We played them last year and we managed to beat them at home. There are players from that side who’ve gone on to be first-regulars in the Premier League.
‘Those are the calibre of players you want to go up against as a young player.
‘We want to compete and go as far as we can, like the experience we had last season. However, we have to be realistic in terms of the challenge of playing against those players.
‘It’s a great experience and a win-win situation with the experience and expectations.
‘So it’s an opportunity for the lads to express themselves under no pressure at a high level.’