Not the end, just the beginning for Brandon Haunstrup after brave Portsmouth decision
Declan Rice’s attention was captured by the player positioned at the front of Barnsley’s exuberant celebrations having secured their Championship status.
‘The guy flossing,’ the West Ham man tweeted, along with five laughing emojis, followed by an applause symbol.
Conor Chaplin made his goal mark during a maiden Championship campaign – now his dancing was earning acclaim from an England international.
The striker forced his way out of Fratton Park in August 2018. Disillusioned at sustained bench duty, he craved regular first-team football, initially at Coventry.
Last summer he arrived at Championship Barnsley, proceeding to register 13 goals in all competitions. In addition, he racked up 39 starts.
Hours before their last-gasp victory at Brentford, Chaplin’s former Pompey team-mate Brandon Haunstrup embarked on a similar career path.
Occupying the same age group in the Blues’ Academy, they emerged through the Fratton Park system alongside each other.
On the occasion of Haunstrup’s first-team debut in the Capital One Cup against Derby in August 2015, it was Chaplin who grabbed the winner as a substitute.
The diminutive striker later desired to quit the club he holds so special to further his career – with Haunstrup now following suit.
Although rejecting a new Blues contract recently, the truth is the 23-year-old had long decided this would be his final Fratton Park campaign.
Having amassed 57 appearances during five seasons since his debut, Haunstrup recognised the time was right to seek more reliable first-team involvement, exiting on a free.
A 2020 return of two outings and no squad presence in the last 14 fixtures, not even on an extended bench for the play-offs, suggests it is the correct decision.
SInce the Crookhorn College pupil’s first-team entrance in 2015-16, he has served as deputy to Enda Stevens, Dion Donohue and then Lee Brown.
When Steve Seddon was recruited on loan from Birmingham in January, a fully-fit Haunstrup was not even regarded as a back-up.
Of course, Haunstrup suffered rotten luck this season having finally established himself in Pompey’s side, albeit in the unaccustomed role of right-back.
In December, he sustained a meniscus tear to his right knee against Peterborough, requiring an operation.
In the same match, rival Brown recognised he required an Achilles operation to cure a long-standing problem.
With the Blues possessing no left-backs and Anton Walkes filling in, the crisis was averted when Seddon was brought into Fratton Park.
Ultimately, Haunstrup started just one more match during the remainder of the campaign – a Leasing.com Trophy win over Scunthorpe.
The last time the youngster from Waterlooville was involved in a Pompey squad was on January 25 for the FA Cup visit of Barnsley.
As an unused substitute, he watched former colleague Chaplin net a late consolation in an impressive 4-2 triumph over the Tykes.
Days earlier, the striker had been crowned Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for December, following a return of five goals from six matches, including a first senior hat-trick.
Pompey as a start is not necessarily the end.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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