DECISION day is looming on promising Pompey pair Dan Smith and Matt Casey.
And Kenny Jackett admits the development of both home-grown talents during the campaign has impressed.
The duo were last summer the sole graduates from the Blues’ Academy, progressing into first-team football through the Checkatrade Trophy.
Centre-half Casey, who is currently on loan at Gosport, started three Pompey matches in the tournament which resulted in Wembley success.
Smith featured twice and is presently on loan with Cork City until June, where he has made eight appearances and scored once.
Their deals expire at the season’s end, along with Nathan Thompson and Dion Donohue. Although the club possess a 12-month option on Donohue.
And Jackett must decide whether Casey and Smith continue to remain part of his first-team squad.
He said: ‘Both of them have, if you like, been third-year scholars this season.
‘Decisions will be made in the weeks to come now for all those scholars and young professionals.
‘Yes, we will be talking to Dan and seeing what the objective is and where he fits in. He’s someone who’s had a good season for us.
‘Matt as well, you look at the first-team games he has played well. He has trained very well, he’s looked very, very comfortable training with our players.
‘There have been several big games in which he has played with Christian Burgess and I thought gave a very good account of himself.
‘They have both developed physically and as players are always improving.
‘You need that in young players, you need them to close that gap between them and the players in the first-team because, as things go on, you need to be regenerating at the bottom.’
Meanwhile, Smith is enduring a frustrating time in Ireland.
The 19-year-old has so far made three starts and five substitute appearances.
Jackett added: ‘Dan hasn’t played much at all, it has been bits and pieces for him.
‘They are pleased with him in terms of he’s a great lad who has added to the character of the team and his work ethic is respected.
‘He’s a young lad and has to force his way into the team, that’s his challenge.
‘That's what you go out on loan to try to overcome.’