Academy chief Greg Miller's admission about potential Portsmouth under-23 side
An under-23 side is not on Pompey’s ‘immediate radar’.
That’s the view of Academy head Greg Miller, as he seeks to revitalise the Blues’ youth set-up.
The concept of an under-23 team has long been favoured at Fratton Park, with Mark Catlin talking positively about the idea as recently as last year.
However, the financial implications of coronavirus and the present performance of the Academy has forced such ambition to be temporarily shelved.
Certainly Miller, who arrived at the Blues in April, believes the timing is not yet right for the introduction of an under-23 set-up.
And he points out the necessity to have youngsters of the right calibre – and the cost of bringing in up to six new staff – as key issues.
‘I don’t think it could immediately happen because to sustain it requires a considerable financial outlay,’ Miller told The News.
‘We must also have confidence that it’s right for our players.
‘For example, there might be some players that are ready to be exposed to the first-team at the end of under-18s.
‘If we set up an under-23s within a 12-24 month window, any player retained must also have the ability to go into the first-team.
‘What we wouldn’t want to do – and what we would be foolish doing – is to create an under-23s team and give all our under-18s access to that at the end of their programme.
‘That’s not being fair to players and it’s not being fair to the football club because we are wasting resources if those players do not have the potential.
‘You need to get to the correct number of players reaching those levels consistently for one – maybe two or three – seasons in the under-18 group before you can really say it’s now sustainable for us to go with an under-23s team.
‘A really tangible under-23 game programme also perhaps involves more travel, which carries with it increased costs, while we’d have to appoint several members of staff.
‘Realistically, they would train at the same time as the first-team, at the same time as the under-18s, so the under-23s would need a physio, a sports scientist and a minimum of two coaches.
‘You are then looking at whether these players would need some support for player wellness and player psychology.
‘So you are probably talking about five or six additional members of staff.
‘You could, of course, commence an under-23 programme with fewer staff and gear up as the number of players you sign for that programme increases.
‘But I believe in doing things really, really well.’
Miller, a former Barnsley head of Academy coaching, is relishing his now role at Fratton Park.
And he has been around the Blues long enough to assess the club is not yet positioned to bring in an under-23 side.
He added: ‘First and foremost, you want to get it right with the under-18s.
‘Then, if we feel in the future that an under-23 side would be beneficial, that is something we can explore.
‘But it’s not on our immediate radar. I certainly wouldn’t say it would happen in the next 12 months.’
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