Whittingham: We’re not out of your league

People who make a big impact on the non-league game - such as prolific Gosport striker Justin Bennett - will now be on the Pompey radar. Picture: Steve Reid (121580-400)
People who make a big impact on the non-league game - such as prolific Gosport striker Justin Bennett - will now be on the Pompey radar. Picture: Steve Reid (121580-400)
Sylvain Deslandes could play at left-back if Dion Donohue is switched to midfield

Pompey boss encouraged by ‘good options’

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Guy Whittingham admitted he won’t be afraid to dip into the non-league market in a bid to build a Blues squad for the future.

The Pompey caretaker boss is aware there are plenty of players at that level who could do a job at Fratton Park.

And with the Blues likely to be plying their trade in League Two come the start of the 2013-14 season, Whittingham knows he might have to look beyond the confines of the Football League to formulate a squad.

With title-chasing Gosport Borough the in-form team in the Southern League premier division, the manager might not have to look too far.

But with Yassin Moutaouakil recruited from Blue Square Bet South outfit Hayes & Yeading in January, Whittingham has already proven he’s not afraid to travel further afield in search of new talent. Jed Wallace’s presence in the current Pompey first-team demonstrates Whittingham’s willingness to put trust in players with a background in the lower leagues.

He was snapped up from Lewes in 2011 before being sent out on loan to Ryman League Whitehawk earlier this term.

That benefited his development as a player.

And with Whittingham aware finances could still be tight at Fratton Park next season, he believes more like him could be unearthed in the months ahead.

‘It’s important we look at non-league players, especially local players,’ said Whittingham.

‘Gosport, for example, have been on a real run.

‘We can’t have people from our local non-league area going and playing somewhere else, which has happened on a couple of occasions.

‘So we’ve got to have our eye on that for sure.

‘There’s still people out there in non-league.

‘Look at Jed Wallace – he was at Lewes two years ago and we’ve picked him up.

‘So there are players still out there.

‘We know we’re not going to have hundreds of pounds to spend on transfer fees, let alone thousands or millions.

‘So we’re going to have to find our players where we can and I don’t see why not non-league.

‘It’s worth giving young players from non-league sides a try to see what they’re like.’

Wallace isn’t the only youngster in the Blues’ first-team to profit from a spell out at a non-league club this term.

Defender Dan Butler excelled during his short loan stay at the Hawks.

Since his recall to Fratton Park, Butler has made the transition look easy – established himself as Whittingham’s first-choice left-back.

‘It’s worked out ideally for Dan,’ said Whittingham.

‘That’s the route we felt was right at the beginning of last year and we’ll carry that on next year with others.

‘Both Dan and Jed are sensible enough lads and there’s enough senior players and sensible players within the changing room to keep their feet on the ground.

‘They’re getting lots of help and to be fair to them they’re accepting that help and taking things on board.’