Serve us up even more, Butler

Quick learner: Dan Butler
Quick learner: Dan Butler
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Dan Butler has been backed for a big Pompey future next term but boss Guy Whittingham told him: I want to see even more from you.

The 18-year-old was one of the major positives to emerge from last season and looks set to be the club’s first-choice left-back in League Two after signing a new two-year deal.

While there were rumours linking the home-grown defender with a move to the Premier League last season, Whittingham insists he did not receive any enquiries.

And the Blues boss has no immediate intentions of selling on a player he thinks can continue to make the most of his first-team opportunity.

Whittingham said: ‘Nobody came to us and asked about him but that’s not being derogatory to Dan.

‘I really thought Dan did very well for us and took his chance brilliantly last season.

‘He showed a lot of maturity and he’s the kind of kid who wants to listen. He wants to learn and improve and those are the kind of players you enjoy working with.

‘Let’s be honest, he would never have got that opportunity had we not been in the situation we were in last season. It came earlier than it probably should have done.

‘But he has taken to first-team football and I think he’s got a big future ahead of him at this club.’

The improvement in Butler’s game was obvious after some intensive work with Whittingham, Andy Awford and former Blues left-back Paul Hardyman, who knows the position inside out.

But Whittingham wants to see more attacking intent from the Cowes-born Academy graduate.

The Pompey boss said: ‘We worked on Dan early in the season and we tried to add a few things to his game.

‘They were things that playing in the first team would require and he took that on board really well.

‘He’s got good energy and defends well but we worked really hard on his distribution.

‘To begin with, Dan was probably one of those players who was happy to play safe.

‘It’s understandable because when you are a young player and you want to impress, you don’t want to make mistakes.

‘So we just encouraged him that every time he got it, to open himself out, go forward with the ball and look to join in with the midfield and forwards a bit more.

‘We wanted him to be a bit more progressive and he took that on board really quickly.’

Pompey have boasted some quality left-backs in their recent past, with Matt Taylor, Nadir Belhadj and Hermann Hreidarsson among those who have been keen to get forward at every opportunity.

And Whittingham believes an attacking full-back can add an important dimension .

He said: ‘We probably lacked a bit of width at times last season and we will be looking to address that.

‘But your full-backs can provide some of that width and are harder to pick up when coming from deep.’