EFL Trophy veteran Haji Mnoga's Portsmouth development excites Kenny Jackett

He has been around Pompey’s EFL Trophy domination since the age of 16.

Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 3:00 pm
Haji Mnoga in the thick of the battle against Southend in Tuesday night's EFL Trophy encounter. Picture: Nigel Keene/ProSportsImages

And, according to Kenny Jackett, Haji Mnoga has maintained his promising development at pace.

Southend marked the defender’s third consecutive EFL Trophy campaign – and fifth first-team outing overall.

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It was back in October 2018 when Mnoga became Pompey’s second-youngest post-war debutant at 16 years, five months and 24 days.

And, encouragingly, he continues to mature in the first-team environment.

Jackett told The News: ‘Haji got the penalty at the start of the game and could have had a couple more at the far post

‘In the second half, I think he showed good power running with the ball and some good crossing ability as well. He put some good balls into the box.

‘He started with us at 16 and we have seen his development over the last three years. He has played with us and played youth football, we have seen his progress in terms of bringing him on.

‘Haji’s not 19 until next April, he’s going to be a big lad when he grows up.

‘This season he has improved, certainly he has benefited from being in the group, joining in with the pros. It has really helped him as a person and as a player.

‘He is still only 18 and has been helped him through pre-season, he feels settled.’

As a first-year scholar, Mnoga made three appearances during the 2018-19 Checkatrade Trophy campaign which would see Pompey crowned winners.

Last term he featured once – at Walsall – as the holders reached the Leasing.com Trophy final, which is still to be played.

Now he has made his fifth appearance, although Jackett is keen to send the youngster out on loan to boost development.

Pompey’s boss added: ‘It is something we have considered, but at the moment he is with us.

‘There has been interest from National League level. If we do loan him out, the National League gives you the opportunity to call people back if you get injuries.

‘Similarly, four or five players at the club could get covid. So you want that option, you want to be strong.

‘We are going through a pretty heavy period of fixtures and, when the window shuts, between now and Christmas, we want to be as strong as we can.’

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