Portsmouth youth options take Checkatrade Trophy hit

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Pompey’s pool of youth reinforcements has been shrunk by injury.

But Kenny Jackett remains on the look-out for promising players to promote into his Checkatrade Trophy squad.

Dan Smith, who has seven goals for Bognor, is sidelined with a hip injury. Picture: Neil Marshall

Dan Smith, who has seven goals for Bognor, is sidelined with a hip injury. Picture: Neil Marshall

The competition has its critics, nonetheless provides an ideal opportunity to blood young performers into the first-team environment.

Last season saw Joe Hancott become Pompey’s youngest post-war debutant when named at left-back in the Checkatrade Trophy 3-3 draw with Fulham Under-21s.

Matt Casey, Bradley Lethbridge and Theo Widdrington also occupied the bench at times during the run to the third round, although didn’t appear.

This season, potential first-team candidates Casey (broken collarbone) and Dan Smith (hip) are sidelined.

Meanwhile, Lethbridge is currently on loan at Bognor with five goals to his name, although does not have a Rocks match tomorrow night.

The likes of Leon Maloney and Alfie Stanley are attacking players with the academy, each registering five goals so far this season.

Meanwhile, defenders Joe Dandy and Haji Mnoga, who featured in the pre-season programme, have also impressed with Mark Kelly’s side.

Yet Jackett admits he is currently short of young options ahead of the Broadfield Stadium clash (7.45pm).

Jackett said: ‘Suddenly we are in a situation now with wide left where Andre Green is out and Ronan Curtis is out this Saturday.

‘These things get thrown up so there are opportunities for people – that’s a good thing.

‘Dan Smith is injured, he has a problem with his hip flexor and is out for at least a month.

‘Matt Casey broke his collarbone and is out for another six weeks, so neither of those two will be around, which are the obvious ones.

‘Bradley Lethbridge is on loan at Bognor and won’t be involved, he’s had a lot of senior games, which is good.

‘There are no other apparent stand-out ones, really.

‘Alex Bass has gone out on loan, Adam May has gone out on loan, I am not going to trouble those guys.’

Jackett is certainly not short of squad numbers at present, enabling him to name an experienced line-up against Crawley.

Louis Dennis will be handed his long-awaited Pompey debut, while Dion Donohue is pencilled in for his return following illness and injury.

There remain promising players in Pompey’s locker, though, with Smith having netted seven times for Bognor before injury.