Mikey Harris has paid tribute to young goalkeeper Jack Collins after he stepped up from Pompey’s under-16s side to keep a clean sheet in the under-18s’ 3-0 win at Southend on Saturday.
And Academy coach Harris admitted the Blues are blessed when it comes to promising youth-team stoppers, with second-year scholars Alex Bass and Nick Hall ahead of Collins in the pecking order.
Highly-rated Bass has been a regular on the substitutes’ bench for Paul Cook’s first team, with 31 appearances in the matchday squad this term, although he is yet to make his senior debut.
Hall has profited from his Academy absence to assume duties for Harris’ side but with a niggling thigh injury affecting his ability to take goal-kicks, the decision was made to withdraw him from the Shrimpers trip.
That meant a fifth under-18s outing for promising Collins, who responded to the call-up with a display that brought a round of applause from his older team-mates.
Harris said: ‘It was brilliant for Jack to keep a clean sheet.
‘All of the boys gave him a round of applause in the cool down.
‘The older boys certainly showed their appreciation for his performance, which is always nice. I am delighted for him.
‘We are very fortunate at this football club that we have got some really good, talented young goalkeepers and they are hard to find.
‘With Bassy, Nick and Jack we have got some really good goalkeepers.
‘To be fair to Nick he has been playing with a bit of a sore thigh lately.
‘It doesn’t cause him any problems during the game in open play but it does when he is kicking.
‘It is his kicking leg so he struggles to take goal-kicks.
‘We were able to manage it when it wasn’t getting any worse but last week it started to get worse so we deloaded him for a week.
‘The physios have been in and will see whether he is good to go for the weekend.’
Harris believes first-team goalkeeping coach Scott Bevan has a lot to be thanked for in the development of the three young keepers – with Academy counterpart Nick Hutchings also praised.
Harris added: ‘It is great credit to Scott Bevan for all of the work he does – and to Academy goalkeeping coach Nick Hutchings as well.
‘Bevs manages to get a lot of hours in with them as well as his first-team commitments.
‘So it is always great credit to him when the boys do well.
‘He was pleased with Jack when he saw his performance back on the DVD.’
Pompey Academy will run the rule over Hall before Saurday’s Furze Lane clash with Barnet (11am).