Portsmouth boss' no-nonsense promise over young talent after summer academy exits

Danny Cowley vowed he won’t bow to pressure over the path taken with developing Pompey’s young players.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 17th June 2021, 9:31 am

The Blues head coach has made it clear he won’t be swayed by the strength of feeling - either inside or out of Fratton Park - over the best steps on bringing emerging talent into the senior ranks.

Cowley promised he’s not afraid of making tough calls over homegrown players, if he feels it’s for the long-term benefit of the club.

The 42-year-old’s views come weeks after a swathe of Pompey’s second-year scholars left the club, and a host of third years also departed.

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Cowley instead feels supplementing his squad by recruiting from the non-league game is the best route to travel in the short term.

That’s seen Liam Vincent recruited from National League Bromley, with the search continuing for more talent outside of Football League.

And Cowley he’d be prepared to favour going down the same avenue again, if he believed it to be the best course of action to take.

Cowley said: ‘What we have to do is make really brave, intelligent decisions for this football club.

Pompey boss Danny Cowley. (Photo by Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com)
Pompey boss Danny Cowley. (Photo by Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com)

‘If we think there is an 18-year-old that is significantly better than what we’ve got, that we can take from another club, we will.

‘If they are better than one of our 18-year-olds - significantly better and significant is the key word - then we will do that.

‘We will do that even if it means a really hard conversation for the young player, who might already be at the club for 10 years or more.

An impression of how the Roko facility will look with Pompey's branding

‘Ultimately, these are the decisions you have to make.’

Third years Harry Kavanagh, Gerard Storey and Eoin Teggart all departed this summer, while the likes of Charlie Bell, Harrison Brook, Harvey Rew, Seok Jae Lee and Harry Anderson all also exited. Brook and Lee turned down third-year scholarships.

Young striker Alfie Stanley remains in talks about staying next season, but, ultimately, Cowley feels there needs to be honesty over young players’ chances of making the grade.

He said: ‘What you don’t want to do is just sign players for the sake of signing them.

‘The worst thing you can ever do to any human being, particularly a young player, is give them false hope.

‘I would never take an 18-year-old if I didn’t think he had a chance of playing in our first team.

‘Even if you take them on a third-year scholarship, the chances of them becoming a professional are still minute.

‘The gap is absolutely huge, so I would never take them for the sake of taking them just to make up the numbers or appease the community or academy - absolutely no.

‘There’s a standard and there’s a level of player they know they must get to for us to take them as a third-year scholar or professional.

‘If they hit that criteria we take them, if we don’t we don’t.

‘We won’t give people false hope.

‘For these people this is some of the key times of their lives.

‘You don’t get this time back, so we’d never do it for the wrong reasons. We’d only do it if we think they had the potential to make this great football club even better.’

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