Portsmouth to step up under-18 recruitment drive

Pompey are putting extra emphasis on their under-18 recruitment. 

As reported by the News this week, the Blues have no current plans to elevate their Category 3 academy to Category 2 status. 

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin. Picture: Joe Pepler

The club does, however, intend to nurture players for the first team by signing youngsters in the 16-18 age bracket. 

Pompey have already paid fees for two upcoming talents.

Croatia under-18 international keeper Petar Durin arrived from Atalanta, while Northern Ireland under-16 winger Eoin Teggart joined from Cliftonville.

Mark Catlin stressed the Blues remain committed to nurturing local juniors through their youth set-up.

But the chief executive stressed Pompey’s main priority is adding fledgling aces to Mark Kelly’s under-18 team.

Catlin told the club’s website: ‘Part of our strategy this year, as we’ve seen after two transfer fees for lads in the under-18 age group, will be a growing emphasis concentrating on that particular age group.

‘We’ll offer the platform for all of the lads and girls at Category 3 level. We’ll nurture those through, as we have a history of doing.

‘By the time we get of the 16-18 age group we’ll be putting extra resources into developing that age.

‘As we hopefully progress on the pitch in the first team, we’ve talked about a potential development squad in the future.

‘That blends in well with the more mid-to-long-term strategy.

‘Nothing has been totally decided on that other than there is going to be an emphasis on the 16-18 age group in regards of recruitment and making our under-18s the strongest we possibly can. 

‘Just because we are a Category 3 it doesn't mean we can’t beat Category 2 and Category 1 teams.

‘That 16-18 age group is key in regards to recruitment and getting in the right players.

‘That might not necessarily be players from Portsmouth. 

‘We want to keep the underbelly of the academy to feed through to that.

‘We’d love if all, if not the majority, were from Portsmouth,

‘But at that age group we have started buying in that bit of quality to make that team better.’

Although the academy status won’t be ramped up in the short term, Catlin pledged Pompey will continue to offer the best facilities within their parameters. 

The chief executive added: ‘The rule changes of EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) have proven there are very little advantages to step up from a Category 3 to a Category 2 academy – there’s just a lot more expense for very little reward.

‘Whether we are Category 3, Category 2 or Category 1, we are and will continue to push for the best facilities we can reasonably afford.

‘That’s not just for the academy but for the first team as well.’