Frustrated ex-Portsmouth starlet handed Bognor contract challenge as he rebuilds after Fratton Park heartbreak and Brighton and West Ham trial rejection

Former Pompey prospect Charlie Bell almost quit Nyewood Lane for Hungerford last week in search of regular football.

Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 4:55 am

Now the midfielder has been challenged to prove he warrants a Rocks future under Robbie Blake.

Bell was among the promising talent disappointingly released from Fratton Park this time last year, a decision which sparked criticism among some supporters.

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Bell subsequently had trials at Premier League pair West Ham and Brighton, before linking up with the Rocks in August.

He has since made 35 appearances, of which 16 have been starts, while scored six times.

Days after a proposed move to Hungerford fell through, he turned in an impressive display in Saturday’s 4-1 triumph over Margate, netting the second goal.

A timely impact as new Rocks boss Blake plots for next season.

Former Pompey midfielder Charlie Bell in action against Peterborough in the Papa John's Trophy last season. Picture: Nigel Keene/ProSportsImages

Blake told The News: ‘I have been on at Charlie too much about application, desire and work-rate.

‘On Saturday he put in an excellent performance which resulted in him scoring a goal. If you keep doing the basics and the right things, you’ll get opportunities.

‘I’ve told Charlie it’s up to him, what does he want to do? He’s got until the end of the season to impress me, then we’ll take it from there.

‘When you come in as manager, you know a lot of the players, but, going forward, we need some other players, we need to recruit.

‘The players here have the shirt at the minute, it’s up to them to prove it and decide whether they are going to be here next year or not.

‘I don’t think Charlie has hit the heights since he came here. Maybe I think too much of him because of the ability he has, but you’ve got to do the other side.

‘The best players in the world all do the other side, like at Bernardo Silva, he works so hard, then the quality and ability comes out in the end.

‘Charlie’s not a head it and kick it, he’s a technical player, but you've still got to do the other side of the game to earn the right to play.

‘He almost left last week. There was a bit of “I want to go and play”, so we nearly decided he could. But there were a couple of complications that go on in football.

‘I then said to Charlie: “You’re staying here now, get your head down and go and do yourself justice”.

Another former Pompey Academy on display last weekend was Harrison Brook, who appeared as a second-half substitute.

The winger turned down the offer of a fresh Blues deal last summer and had subsequently featured 28 times for the Rocks, netting twice.’

Blake added: ‘Harrison has flitted in and out, he’s another one who has probably not hit the heights that I was expecting.

‘But he will get an opportunity from now until the end of the season.

‘I’ve told him he has to prove to me that he wants to be here – and that he can make an impact in the game.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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