Pompey Academy coach Mikey Harris explained the unusual decision to play Nick Hall as a striker and insisted: Our first-team players can’t believe he is a goalkeeper.
Under-18s stopper Hall has been a regular between the sticks this season for Harris’ side, following counterpart Alex Bass’ involvement with the senior squad.
But with Bass returning to youth-team duties for Saturday’s Merit League division one trip to Cheltenham Town, Hall found himself on the bench watching on as the Blues dominated a one-sided affair.
With an hour on the clock, Harris put into practise a plan he had been working on with Pompey goalkeeping coach Scott Bevan and threw Hall into the mix as a striker.
An impressive half-hour cameo failed to provide a goal but after the Blues’ 5-1 rout of their opponents, Harris was left vindicated by his switch.
Having been a prolific front man before donning the gloves, Hall responded to the challenge with relish.
And Harris is not done experimenting with his goalkeepers, with Bass next in line to sample life outfield.
He said: ‘Nick is a really good outfield player in his own right.
‘When he joins in with the outfield players in training and we mix the goalkeepers in, he just rips it up.
‘There have been a couple of times where he has trained with the first team and they have said: “he is not a goalkeeper, there is no way”.
‘He used to play as a striker when he was younger and scored 30-40 goals every season – he played at county level up front.
‘It wasn’t disrespectful to Cheltenham – he is a really good player and we had been speaking about him getting an opportunity to play on pitch.
‘We are also now looking to give Bassy an opportunity to play out on the pitch as well in a non-competitive game.
‘It’s to give them a different perspective and see if that can’t help them as goalkeepers.
‘It is a little bit out there but they are both good on the ball.’
The modern game has seen a rise in goalkeepers who are not only comfortable with the ball at their feet but also playing out from the back and initiating attacks.
And Harris is keen to give his Pompey prospects the best opportunities to develop both their ball retention and understanding of outfield team-mates, with the support of ‘forward-thinking’ Bevan.
‘It is something me and Scott Bevan have talked about a lot,’ said Harris.
‘Bevs is a really forward-thinking coach.
‘He is up for different things and we agree it is good to give players different perspectives.’
– JEFF MARSHMAN