Joe Gallen hopeful Portsmouth trio can follow in the footsteps of Jack Whatmough, Ben Close and Conor Chaplin

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Joe Gallen is wishing Pompey’s trio of third-year scholars well as they look to take a similar step to Jack Whatmough, Ben Close and Conor Chaplin.

But the Blues’ assistant manager has warned the emerging talents they have a lot to do before breaking into the first team.

Joe Hancott, Bradley Lethbridge, both 18, and Leon Maloney, 17, all signed one-year scholarship deals earlier this week.

All three were handed stays at Fratton Park following two seasons in the club’s academy.

And each of the trio have featured for Kenny Jackett in the Checkatrade Trophy over the past two campaigns.

Gallen was delighted to see all three pen extensions at PO4 for next season.

Bradley Lethbridge. Picture by Joe Pepler

Bradley Lethbridge. Picture by Joe Pepler

But the former Republic of Ireland international was quick to stress the trio have plenty to do before coming into Jackett’s immediate plans.

Whatmough and Close have established themselves as first-team regulars in recent seasons, after coming through the youth ranks.

Meanwhile, Chaplin made 122 appearances for the Blues before moving to Coventry, initially on loan, in August 2018.

Gallen is hoping the current third-year scholars can follow a similar route to the first team.

He said: ‘If we can get them through the system, they’re with us and we’re developing them as we go, then it can be a lot better than going out and trying to sign players.

‘We’re particularly delighted for those three lads.

‘They’ve got a lot of developing to do.

‘They also got a lot of work to do to get into Portsmouth’s first team.

‘As the standards are going up here, them lads are going to have to get with and go with it.

‘The youth department have been doing well, with Jack Whatmough, Ben Close and before that Conor Chaplin.

‘They’ve been doing well producing players.

‘Hopefully all three, or one even, can develop into first-team players and help us out.’

Pompey’s staff will help all three find loans next season.

Gallen believes that is best for their development as they bid to make the grade with the Blues.

He added: ‘They’re going to have to get themselves out on loan.

‘We need them loans to be at the highest possible ladder.

‘We’re currently at the top end of League One.

‘Hopefully, they can get to Conference, Conference South standard.

‘They’ll train with us here, play for their loan club at the best standard they can get.

‘I wish them all luck and it would be great to see all three come through.’