Joel Ward has backed Pompey’s latest batch of young guns to make the first-team breakthrough at Fratton Park.
Talented teenagers Ryan Williams, Lewis Stockford and Sam Magri were handed second-half run-outs in the 1-0 friendly defeat to Chelsea on Saturday.
Their showings in the glamour fixture followed on from their maiden appearances in the Blues’ opening pre-season game against the Hawks last Monday.
Both Aussie Williams and Southsea lad Stockford joined Ward – himself a product of Pomey’s youth system – as Steve Cotterill’s squad flew out to America yesterday to intensify their preparations for the new season.
Magri was left behind, with Cotterill keen to give the youngster an extended break following his involvement with the England under-17 side this summer.
But Ward has faith in all three talents and believes their quality will prove invaluable in the years to come at Fratton Park.
‘The young lads are doing well,’ said Ward.
‘Sam has been away with England and he’s been doing very well.
‘Ryan and Lewis have been doing well also, coming through training, and they have come away with us to America to build and learn off the more experienced pros.
‘They’re good lads, good players and they give it everything.
‘It’s great to see them coming through and I’m sure they’ve got good futures at the club.’
Despite making 46 appearances in his first full season with the Blues last term, 21-year-old Ward believes he too has much to learn.
‘I was in the same position (as the trio) and I’m still there, I suppose,’ he said.
‘I’m still reasonably young and I’m still learning off the pros.
‘Hopefully, they can guide me through and help me out, too.’