MIKEY HARRIS has backed Conor Chaplin and Adam May to seize their first-team opportunity.
Pompey Academy coach Harris admitted that the teenage duo’s recent elevation into the Blues’ senior ranks ranked as his proudest moment since arriving at the club last summer from Salisbury City.
But the former Conference premier boss has warned the youngsters to not rest on their laurels as they fight to establish themselves in the professional game – advice he believes they will heed.
Harris said: ‘In terms of this season, it is one we can look back on very positively.
‘Conor Chaplin has made the step up to the first team in these last few months and scored his first senior goal.
‘That’s a big moment in any young lad’s career and for him to get it so early is fantastic.
‘He also claimed apprentice of the year for League Two, which was a huge honour and also a big reward for everyone who has played a part in his development.
‘And obviously, Adam May has also made his senior debut, which is another big step in the right direction for him as first-year scholar.’
Seventeen-year-old May’s recent emergence is made all the more impressive by the fact he still has a year to run on his apprenticeship.
But for Harris, it comes as no surprise that the dynamic midfielder has earned himself a call-up.
Indeed, the Blues’ youth-team coach believes both May and Chaplin possess the necessary attributes to push on again at the club.
Harris said: ‘Adam has always been one in the system that people have had an eye on and thought could make the journey.
‘We were delighted that he stepped in at this early stage of his career.
‘But the key for him, Conor and for any of the other boys who are stepping up, is to not be happy to just play a game or two, but to cement themselves in the team.
‘You have only got to look at someone like Dele Alli at MK Dons, who as a very young lad (19), has gone and played pretty much every game in their first team.
‘He gets a move to Tottenham before being loaned back to them and has done brilliantly to be awarded the Football League young player of the year.’
Harris is confident May and Chaplin are mentally ready to carve out an impressive career of their own, with Saturday’s curtain closer with York another opportunity to show their first-team worth.
He reiterated: ‘It’s a case of not being happy to make a first-team debut and play a few games.
‘That’s not enough.
‘Expectations and targets change.
‘You have got to keep striving to move forward and to improve and I know those two will.
‘I know it, because that is their characters.’