POMPEY’s young guns have been told: If you’re good enough – you’re old enough.
The emerging talent at Fratton Park have been challenged to seize their opportunity to make the breakthrough next term.
Pompey’s squad return for pre-season training on Thursday and will immediately set about gearing up for the new campaign in League One.
Of the 22 players currently at boss Kenny Jackett’s disposal, eight are aged 20 or under.
Blues assistant manager Joe Gallen promised there will be a chance for those youngsters to stake their claim for meaningful playing time.
Jackett’s No2 highlighted how the duo enjoyed League One title success with a young squad at Wolves in 2014.
He stressed it will be no different at Pompey – and it’s down to emerging players to prove they’re good enough.
Gallen said: ‘If you look in forward areas there is quite a lot of experience.
‘If you look at Gary Roberts and Carl Baker, their ages and the amount of games they’ve played, it’s there.
‘But there’s no problem with having young players. If they are good enough then great.
‘If young players aren’t good enough, that’s where the problem will be.
‘There’s no problem if they are good enough. If they are good enough, that’s fine.
‘We had a young team at Wolves. Everyone said we wouldn’t be able to do it – but it was record points.
‘They were good enough, though. That’s the thing.
‘It’s not their age. It’s whether they are good enough or not.
‘If they are good enough to step up, play, play well and be successful – great.
‘If they are good enough the age is irrelevant.’
Midfield makes for an interesting area of the pitch when assessing the way forward for the Blues’ young players.
Adam May, 19, and Ben Close, 20, are the current options alongside Danny Rose, with Amine Linganzi still in contract talks with the club.
The pair could now get their chances next season.
Gallen added: ‘We’ve got some young players here like Ben Close and Adam May who everyone speaks highly of.
‘But they haven’t quite made the breakthrough yet and they haven’t quite had the opportunity.
‘At the moment, it looks like there could be an opportunity. It’s up to them to take it.
‘The players pick the team, really. The manager surely picks the best players.
‘I’ll be telling them the players pick the team. If they play well when they get their chance, train well and show the right attitude – and they’re good enough – they’ll play.
‘There’s space and the players have to come back next week and impress the manager.
‘They have to impress. It’s up to them. It’s not favourites – it’s the players who ultimately pick the team by showing who deserves to play.’