Jed Wallace needs to be kept by Pompey.
That’s the view of Shaun Cooper, who believes the likes of Wallace and Dan Butler have key roles to play in the Blues’ bid to get out of League Two at the first attempt next season.
Wallace has caught the eye following his emergence in the first-team over the second half of the campaign.
The 19-year-old has grabbed six goals with his all-energy displays, drawing the attention of suitors.
Brighton have already made a bid for Wallace, while boss Guy Whittingham admitted last week he didn’t know whether the Blues would keep hold of him this summer.
But Cooper believes Pompey should fight to keep hold of their top young talents.
He said: ‘Jed’s a good player. He has a fantastic attitude.
‘Everyone knows he has fantastic energy but on top of that, he has great ability, a good football brain and a fantastic desire to win.
‘He has attributes that could see him go a long way.
‘He needs to make sure his confidence does not develop into arrogance. But that’s something I’m sure he can keep in check. As long as he does everything right he has a very good future.
‘Dan Butler is another one who has done exceptionally well. He is an exceptional young lad.
‘It’s important to keep them just for the fact they are good players. You need good players to do well in League Two, so for that reason alone we need to keep them.
‘This club has always had good youngsters.
‘They are a confident bunch of young lads. Nothing fazes them. The ones who have come in and played games, and the ones around the squad are all capable players.
‘They are capable of doing the business. It’s an exciting time for them.’
Cooper knows Pompey face a challenge to keep the likes of Wallace if higher-division sides make a bid for him.
The 29-year-old turned down the chance to step up a level when he was at Bournemouth earlier in his career.
Cooper feels the players have to weigh up progressing their careers, with the prospect of spending more time on the sidelines if they leave.
He said: ‘You can’t begrudge them a move, though, of course not.
‘I speak from experience when I say that. I had a couple of sniffs when I was younger and started playing at Bournemouth. I chose to stick around and they never came around again.
‘I wouldn’t say that I regretted it but it’s an example of how you have to take your chance when it’s there.
‘For their development it’s going to be important to play first-team football.
‘You could get a really good move and end up in an under-21 team. That’s no good. There’s nothing more important than playing in a first team.
‘You get that competitive edge, the desire to win and you pick up good habits. It’s important they do that.’