Joe Gallen believes Leon Maloney has ‘looked at home’ for Pompey this season.
The third-year scholar has caught the eye in both outings for Kenny Jackett’s side in the Leasing.com Trophy.
Maloney impressed in the 1-0 win over Crawley on full debut before recording a maiden assist as the Blues defeated Norwich under-21s at Fratton Park earlier this month.
The Ryde-born winger has also been an unused substitute three times – most recently in the 4-0 south-coast derby defeat to Southampton on Tuesday.
There was interest in Maloney from Dutch side Volendam during the transfer window but a move failed to materialise.
Gallen feels it’s Pompey’s gain they’ve kept hold of the 18-year-old.
And the assistant boss heaped praise on Maloney’s promising progress.
Gallen said: ‘He’s looked very comfortable and very confident when he’s stepped on the pitch.
‘He looks at home, really. He’s very comfortable left or right wing, got a turn of speed and can run with the ball.
‘Leon has played very well. He’s our player and we’ve just got to keep developing him now.
‘There was quite a lot of talk about it (moving to Volendam).
‘But as a club, we have decided to keep him and develop him for ourselves.
‘And why shouldn’t we keep him and develop him for ourselves for the future?
‘The good thing for Leon is, while he’s going to grow into his body a bit more, he plays in a position where if you have speed and athleticism then your physique doesn’t quite matter.’
Maloney’s likely to feature for the reserves against AFC Bournemouth in the Central League Cup on Tuesday.
Now Pompey have three fully-fit wingers in Ronan Curtis, Marcus Harness and Ryan Williams available, there’s the option for the youngster to go out on loan.
Gallen reckons Maloney could play at National League level.
He added: ‘If people have watched him – with his eye for goal, confidence and crossing ability – I don't see why he couldn’t play in National League or National League South.
‘That’d be a good stepping stone. We see ourselves as a top-end League One club.
‘As a club, we're bigger than that but that’s where we are at the minute and would need some stepping stones to that.’