Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett to unveil youthful Leasing.com Trophy line-up - and prioritise Gillingham

Kenny Jackett will tonight turn to youth as Pompey prioritise their League One campaign.

Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 7:05 am

The Blues take the trip to Oxford United (7.45pm) in their final group match of the Leasing.com Trophy.

Having already qualified for the knock-out stages and without international pair Craig MacGillivray and Ross McCrorie against Gillingham on Saturday, Jackett will blood more of his talented youngsters.

It’s a formula which has already produced two wins in this season’s competition.

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Now Pompey’s boss plans to hand a debut to first-year scholar Harvey Rew, joining academy graduates Bradley Lethbridge, Leon Maloney and Josh Flint in the side.

And thrown in with the likes of Brandon Haunstrup, Andy Cannon and Anton Walkes, the line up will wear a youthful look.

Jackett said: ‘My priority is Saturday, we have won successive league games for the first time this season and have a home game to try to follow that up.

'Gillingham is not going to be an easy one, but I want to give it everything we can, making sure everybody has fresh energy to attack that game.

Leon Maloney will be handed his third Leasing.com Trophy start in tonight's trip to Oxford United. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘I don’t really want any injuries at Oxford, Saturday is my priority.

‘The lads beneath need a stage and a plan as well, and part of that is for our academy to get chances when they can.

‘I do think the early rounds of this competition are important and can really help develop the younger players, while giving us a chance to look at them and assess them.

‘That’s different to under-18 football and maybe reserve-team friendlies. Instead they play at competitive grounds against some experienced players, which is a good test.

‘We can do both. We can compete tonight and do well, while also prioritising Saturday, which is a big one.’

Pompey are, of course, the reigning holders of a competition they last season won at Wembley in a penalty shoot-out against Sunderland.

Jackett added: ‘We again hope to do well in this competition, there is a Wembley appearance at the end of it.

'We saw how fantastic that was last year, it was a big day, I enjoyed it.’