Kenny Jackett knows he’s throwing his Pompey youngsters in at the deep end at Oxford United tonight.
But the Blues boss believes it will give him an even better understanding of their potential as the kids test themselves against an in-form League One outfit.
With Pompey’s progress from Southern Group B of the EFL Trophy already guaranteed, Jackett will call on some of his academy players for tonight’s game at the Kassam Stadium.
That’s in stark contrast to opposite number Karl Robinson’s approach, with the U’s manager keen to breed a winning mentality into his side.
Despite having an important league game against Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, he’s already stated a strong team will line up for the visit of the Blues as Oxford aim to keep changes to a minimum.
That means Pompey’s youngsters will face a tough test as they get senior game time under their belts.
However, Jackett believes it will offer him a useful indication off their ability as he assess their Blues development.
The manager said: 'In terms of our academy, always playing on a Saturday morning, the level of opposition at times, the Premier League Cup games, they are all good.
'But to go and play Oxford away at their main stadium, against what will be a strong side is really for the young players.
‘It’s the ultimate test and you can see more as a staff.
‘For the likes of Mark Kelly, and people like that watching and assessing the young players as they come through, for myself as the manager, you know, we can see more in these games – even when you can see potential for the future which many times you can.’