Jackett hoping Portsmouth youngster Haji Mnoga earns second England call-up

Have your say

Kenny Jackett is hoping Haji Mnoga will earn a second England call-up next month. 

The Pompey Academy defender has recently returned from his first international experience with Three Lions’ under-17s.

Haji Mnoga. Picture: Joe Pepler

Haji Mnoga. Picture: Joe Pepler

Mnoga came off the bench in England’s 0-0 draw with Hungary last Sunday, having been an unused substitute in the 3-2 victory over France three days earlier. 

The 16-year-old’s breakthrough is a reward for the promising progress he’s made this season.

He’s featured three times for Jackett’s first team in the run to the Checkatrade Trophy semi-finals.

Pompey travel to Bury on Tuesday, February 26, for the right to face either Sunderland or Bristol Rovers at Wembley. 

Jackett heaped praise on Mnoga after winning his first international cap. 

And the former Trafalgar School pupil could again be included in Steve Cooper’s set-up when England under-17s meet up in a few weeks.

The Blues boss said: ‘It is a proud moment for him and the club.

‘The fact he played on the Sunday and was involved in the game in the week is good, and there are further opportunities for him in March when he’ll find out if he goes again.

‘But good for him. It’s a good experience for him, a proud moment for him, his family and for Portsmouth. 

‘Ultimately, for us, we’ve got a player who is playing for England in our academy.

‘It’s been interesting to have seen his performances from his debut at Crawley onwards.

‘It’s given him a good insight into first-team football and what’s required to make the grade.

‘While you’re playing in youth football and in and around that England squad – which is a great experience – the quicker you’re playing men’s football the better.’

Mnoga started the season recognised as a centre-back.

But Jackett and academy boss Mark Kelly took the decision to switch the fledgling talent out wide.

The Pompey manager added: ‘I did think athletically he’s needed to play right-back and is more suited to right-back than centre-back.

‘It’s not something he has to make a decision on now and has dovetailed between the two over the course of the season.

‘He needs to keep his head down, keep working hard and see if he can finish the season strong for us.

‘By the time May or June comes around, he’ll hopefully be able to close on a good first season after leaving school.

‘We’ll then see we can put that to good effect and we can, as a club, plan for his development next year.’