'It’s a shame we’ve lost a couple of staff recently': Danny Cowley on why he remains encouraged by table-topping Portsmouth Academy's progress

Danny Cowley believes Pompey’s Academy is ‘heading in the right direction’ despite recent staff losses and facility concerns.
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Head of coaching Sean O’Driscoll has quit, while goalkeeping coach Joe Prodomo, who arrived in the summer, has left for Bournemouth under-23s.

In the meantime, some Academy parents and staff past and present have questioned the set-up’s funding in recent times under Tornante.

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However, Cowley, who helped appoint Academy head Greg Miller in April, is encouraged by its process.

The under-18s presently top the Youth Alliance League South-West Division, while Harry Jewitt-White, Izzy Kaba and Toby Steward continue to train with the first-team.

Pompey’s head coach told The News: ‘We are making baby steps, but it’s moving in the right direction.

‘Nobody likes change, we are all human beings, but we’re trying to become one club and trying to align our values and the way that we work.

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‘That is across all provision of coaching, sports science, medical analysis, and recruitment – so that we can have one way.

Members of Pompey's Academy celebrate after a penalty shoot-out victory at Basingstoke in the Hampshire Senior Cup. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)Members of Pompey's Academy celebrate after a penalty shoot-out victory at Basingstoke in the Hampshire Senior Cup. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)
Members of Pompey's Academy celebrate after a penalty shoot-out victory at Basingstoke in the Hampshire Senior Cup. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

‘It’s not going to happen overnight and you aren’t going to see the fruits of it immediately. Build it and over time you’ll know.

‘Look at Lincoln, we did so much trying to get that Academy into a good place and they are now enjoying the fruits of that, but that is 5-6 years in the making.

‘I am proud of our Academy lads, though, they had a really difficult summer for obvious reasons, along with a number of bouts of Covid in pre-season, yet have started as well as they have.

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‘There are a lot of young players, 16-year-olds fast-tracked in the circumstances, and they have done great. The challenge for them now is to build on that.

‘We appointed Greg Miller who is incredibly hard working, a very good operator and very early into his tenure.

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‘We know what we have to do to achieve and we know how important a successful Academy is to this football club moving forward.’

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He had been with the Blues since March 2019, having previously been assistant manager at Liverpool and boss at Doncaster, Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth.

While Prodomo was appointed as Academy goalkeeping coach in the summer to replace Michael Poke, following his promotion to the first-team set up.

Cowley added: ‘It’s a shame that we’ve lost a couple of staff recently.

‘Joe Prodomo, the Academy goalkeeping coach, was brilliant and when you get someone really, really good other people are going to want them.

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‘For Joe, unfortunately it was down to location and the financial package offered to him by Bournemouth. That’s where we are as an Academy at the moment.

‘Sean (O’Driscoll) is a really good guy, I had the pleasure of meeting him a number of times when he came into Lincoln to see us.

‘I always love listening to Sean and taking advice from him because he has lived football for so long and has such a unique opinion.’

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