Danny Cowley puts faith in 'six or seven' Portsmouth Academy starlets for Papa John's Trophy opener at AFC Wimbledon

Danny Cowley is to pluck ‘six or seven’ youngsters from Pompey’s Academy to supplement their victory bid at AFC Wimbledon.

Monday, 6th September 2021, 5:23 pm
Alfie Bridgman, who made his Pompey debut last season, is expected to be among 'six or seven' Academy youngsters in Danny Cowley's squad at AFC Wimbledon in the Papa John's Trophy. Picture: Nigel Keene/ProSportsImages

The Blues head to Plough Lane tomorrow night with an overhauled playing squad for the Papa John’s Trophy.

Pompey have four absentees through international duty, including England under-20 cap Miguel Azeez, while an unnamed player is missing after catching Coronavirus.

In addition, Cowley is keen to rotate his side to hand precious match minutes to fringe players including Louis Thompson, Paul Downing and George Hirst.

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And Cowley is relishing casting his eye over Blues youngsters in a first-team environment.

He told The News: ‘This gives a good opportunity for some players who have been a bit short of game time to play, while allowng us the flexibility we need to hopefully progress in the competition.

‘I think we’ll take at least six or seven from the Academy, which will be good.

‘It’s a great opportunity for us. I love the competition because it’s a cup competition that realistically we can win.

‘Also, it’s a great opportunity for us to maybe play players that have been outside the squad, while amalgamating them with the Academy to give some young players game time.

‘As a football club, if we are going to progress and create sustainable success, we must develop our own players.

‘This is a great competition to bring the young players through, while also keeping a competitive balance.

‘Pompey have had really good success in this competition in recent times, while Nicky and I were lucky enough to win it while at Lincoln (in 2018).’

Also in the squad will be Haji Mnoga, who made his Bromley debut in a 2-2 draw against Chesterfield on Saturday.

Under terms of the loan agreement until January, the right-back is allowed to represent Pompey in the Papa John’s Trophy.

Cowley added: ‘Haji can play in this competition and is available against Wimbledon.

‘Part of the agreement is he will be able to come back to us and play in these games, which I think is really good for the young players.

‘It’s important for Haji and for his development – and he will be involved.’

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