Pompey development group still on hold

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett
The Eisners - who the Pompey Supporters Trust agreed to sell to a year ago. Picture: Joe Pepler

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POMPEY will not introduce a development group next season.

But Kenny Jackett remains keen to implement the set-up in the future.

I think a development group is a good thing, definitely, it is an extension of the youth policy

Kenny Jackett

The concept has been on the Fratton Park agenda for a number of years.

Development groups are widely regarded as offering a crucial buffer between academies and first teams, aiding the progress of young talent.

In the continued absence of such a system at the Blues, some young talent not yet ready for senior involvement have instead been forced to look elsewhere.

Last season Harvey Bradbury moved to Watford having not been offered professional terms, while Theo Widdrington is interesting Brighton following his release.

And Jackett has revealed it will be another season at least before a Pompey development group is created.

The Blues manager said: ‘There are thoughts on it, definitely, but we haven’t quite got the facilities here to do it justice, in terms of pitches, changing rooms and staff.

‘It certainly is not going to happen next year.

‘A development group was definitely something that was discussed last summer.

‘Where we are right now in terms of expanding to get a development group, it is something which wouldn’t suit the training ground facilities we have.

‘It needs more investment in pitches really.

‘The changing rooms, to a degree, you can get over, but it would still need to be quite a big investment to expand to that.

‘I think a development group is a good thing, definitely. It is an extension of the youth policy.

‘In terms of the academy, we are Category 3 at the moment. Could we in time go to and sustain a Category 2? Yes.

‘A Category 1 would be great, but certainly stepping up to that you need a development group.

‘In our area we have Southampton, Brighton and Bournemouth, it’s very competitive, the set-up of those clubs is huge.’

Striker Bradbury, son of Hawks manager Lee, was not offered a contract in the summer of 2017 after emerging through the academy.

He was subsequently snapped up by Watford on a two-year deal after a trial.

The 19-year-old spent the second half of this season on loan at St Albans, where he scored twice in 11 appearances.

Meanwhile, Widdrington has not been offered fresh Fratton terms.

He became a first-year professional at Pompey last summer.

Jackett added: ‘Loaning out young players is a route we have to use for them to benefit from first-team football.

‘Even with a development group, though, you still need to get them out on loan, it’s not just keeping them in, they need to get out and gain experience.

‘There is nothing like playing games, it is a key thing.’