'He could become a very good player' - A controversial Portsmouth exit, but starlet tipped for bright future

Charlie Bell holds off Peterborough's Idris Kanu in the Papa John's Trophy last season. Picture: Nigel Keene/ProSportsImagesCharlie Bell holds off Peterborough's Idris Kanu in the Papa John's Trophy last season. Picture: Nigel Keene/ProSportsImages
Charlie Bell holds off Peterborough's Idris Kanu in the Papa John's Trophy last season. Picture: Nigel Keene/ProSportsImages
He emerged as the shining light of Pompey’s Papa John’s Trophy campaign last season.

Then Charlie Bell was shown the door in a decision widely regarded as controversial among the Fratton faithful.

A trip to AFC Wimbledon tomorrow night in the competition could well signify prized first-team opportunities for the latest crop of Academy talent.

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In the meantime, Bell, who featured three times for the Blues last term, is making his comeback at Bognor.

The midfielder from North End this summer spent time at West Ham and Brighton attempting to win a contract following his Fratton Park release.

Now the 18-year-old’s at Nyewood Lane under the guidance of ex-Blues coach Robbie Blake, catching the eye with two goals in his opening four outings.

Blake told The News: ‘It takes a bit out of any young player, the realisation that I’m not in every day and no longer playing for my home-town club any more. It’s a bit of a reality check.

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‘Charlie could be very good, he is still sloppy in certain areas, but we are hoping that he listens.

‘I think he needs to get fitter, he hasn’t played men’s football at this level, but has so much natural technical ability that he can score goals.

‘He should be affecting the game higher, we want him playing in and around the box. He has that trickery and can cause damage, but he’s doing well.

‘Charlie has a really good family, he’s a great lad, he wants to learn and listen. That’s all you can do at any level, listen and take constructive criticism on board then you’ve got a chance of progressing.

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‘And, with his ability, I do believe that if he gets the ugly side of the game, which not everyone has, he has a future.

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‘You don’t know with players. If he gets the other side of the game coupled with his ability, who knows where he can go, you just don’t know at this level, you don’t know in football.

‘One door closes, another opens. It’s about how hard he works now, how much shape he gets himself in, because his ability is there.’

Bell had come to the attention of Blake during his time as a Pompey coach.

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The former Burnley striker left as the Blues’ first-team coach to join Bognor in May 2018, where he continues to work alongside Jack Pearce.

And he wasted no time in pursuing Bell following his surprise release at the end of last season.

Blake added: ‘As soon as I got a heads up of Charlie leaving Pompey, I tried to get him early doors.

‘We spoke, he said he was going to try to get a pro contract and go to some Academy clubs and see how he did.

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‘He said if he didn’t get that then he’d sign for us – and he did.

‘We’re pleased to have him, he’s still learning, still doing things in the game that he needs to get better at, but it will come.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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