'Middle bit got lost' - Mark Kelly explains his Portsmouth aim after taking up new role
Mark Kelly is aiming to create an improved conduit between Pompey’s youth and first team after admitting the middle ground has ‘got lost’ over the past few years.
Kelly has moved into the role of player development manager, having served as the Blues’ academy manager for the past six years.
Along with helping with first-team coaching and recruitment, he’ll focus on developing players in the under-19 to under-23 age groups.
That will see the likes of third-year scholars Harry Kavanagh, Eoin Teggart and Aflie Stanley fall under his remit.
Alex Bass, who signed his first professional deal in 2016, is the last homegrown talent to really establish himself at Fratton Park.
The likes of Dan Smith, Matt Casey and Bradley Lethbridge all showed promise along the way but got caught between ‘two loops’ at times.
That’s something Pompey and Kelly are setting out to change, however, as he’ll be working with those fledgling talents on a daily basis.
The former winger said: ‘On a day-to-day basis, there needed someone to take control of the lads between the under-18s and the first team.
‘It needs some specialism to deal with their programmes. If we are looking to develop players, you need someone on the ground to work with them every day.
‘It falls between things otherwise and you've got to be careful that doesn't happen.
‘There will be somebody in that area who can deal with it on a day-to-day basis and it kind of fell between two loops before.
‘It's about trying to manage that side of things. We are lucky because we work with each other every day and can balance some sort of training.
‘But you do need someone who needs more dedicated training, more time to develop and more pushing. Those boys need someone for themselves who can help them on an individual basis.
‘It's all about following their analysis if they’re out on loan, going through all those things and having the time to do all of it.
‘That's where the middle bit got lost but that will be the defined role more and more now to look at those individuals, plan and analyse them when they go out on loan.
‘It's basically controlling that area because it fell in between things at times. Now it's time to grab hold of that and grow it.’
With the potential implementation of a salary cap looming, Kelly also pinpointed how crucial developing players who are under-21 could be for Pompey.
He added: ‘The transition between the under-18s through to the under-21s is an important one and it needs concentration and growth.
‘With a salary cap potentially being brought in then under-21s become important and it's a really defined area that needs some looking at.
‘The transitional period could be quite important and it's an area that needs looking into.’