'Crunch period' for Leon Maloney - but youngster's determined to prove his Portsmouth worth
Leon Maloney admitted he’s determined to make the most of his Pompey opportunities and come out the other end of a ‘crunch’ period in his fledgling career.
The academy product is also making the most of advice offered by older brother Jack, who broke into the Blues first team after coming through the club’s youth system in 2012.
Maloney, 18, is set to make his fourth senior Pompey appearance in tonight’s Leasing.com Trophy fixture at Oxford United.
The highly-rated winger is expected to be part of a youthful Blues side that will travel to the Kassam Stadium with progress to the last 32 of the competition already sewn up.
His participation in manager Kenny Jackett’s senior set-up continues a breakthrough season for the youngster that saw him start previous EFL Trophy games against Crawley and Norwich under-21s.
He’s also made the bench on four occasions this term - both in League One and the Carabao Cup - after making his debut against Southend last season.
The third-year scholar, who recently trained with Dutch second-tier side Volendam, knows he needs to make the most of these chances as the Blues prepare to weigh up his future.
But the Isle of Wight-born ace is determined to prove his worth and extend his Pompey career beyond the end of the season.
Speaking on Pompey’s YouTube channel, Maloney said: 'It's going really well, to be fair.
'I'm enjoying it a lot, playing football.
'Obviously, game time isn't as regular as last year - a game every week, either at Bognor when I was on loan or with the under-18s - but still it's going well.
'Training most days in and around the first team, doing that, getting a load of experience - it's really good...
‘Obviously, third year, you only have one year left, and yeah it's definitely a crunch period.
'So the games I do play I've got to do well.
'They're not coming regularly but when they do come I've got to be on it straight away.
'So, yeah, it is crunch time but hopefully I can come out the other end.'
Older brother Jack broke into the Blues senior team in 2012, making his debut in a League Cup defeat at Plymouth as a fresh-faced 17-year-old.
In total, he went on to make 11 appearances for the Fratton Park club, before his release in 2015.
The former Blues winger is still involved in the game, with the now 24-year-old lining up for Horndean United in the Wessex League premier division.
According to younger sibling Leon, he’s been learning from the advice that’s been on offer.
Maloney added: 'There's things he (Jack) didn't do which he's telling me to do and it's helping a lot.
'And, honestly, it's great to have him there helping me, telling me things I should be doing and what I shouldn't - he's helped me a lot, to be fair.
'He tells me how to improve my game, so I've learnt a lot from him definitely.’