Portsmouth gearing up for summer raids on Premier League and Championship academies following successful moves for Arsenal, Spurs and Man City youngsters
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And it’s a process that will aided by new assistant head coach Jon Harley, who will have expert knowledge on the talent likely up for grabs thanks to a decade spent within Chelsea’s youth teams ranks.
Dipping into this pool of players is something Pompey are well used to and have benefitted from in recent seasons.
Last summer Zak Swanson and Josh Oluwayemi joined permanently from Arsenal and Spurs respectively, with both making good impressions in their maiden seasons at Fratton Park.
Twenty-year-old Ryley Towler was signed from Bristol City in the January and is already a first-team regular.
Meanwhile, fellow youngsters Josh Griffiths (now back at West Brom) and Dane Scarlett (Spurs) have been given plenty of game time this term while on loan at Fratton Park.
Gavin Bazunu’s temporary stay from Manchester City is perhaps Pompey’s best foray down this particular route to date.
But with the Blues keen to intensify their activity in this key area going forward and invest in youth, Hughes said Pompey are well placed to do that.
The club’s sporting director said: ‘There’s not so much trials going on, but we’re looking (at who might be available).
‘We’ve got a real firm eye on the summer and who we can bring in and what that looks like.
‘We’ve got a lot of conversations going on at the football club about our younger players as well and what their pathways look like and how that’s going to progress forward.
‘So there’s a lot of activity going on, which is great – that’s what we’re all in it for. We love it and do it because we like the thrill of it.
‘We’re already back at it (after the January transfer window) and in constant conversation about the summer and everything in between.’
Speaking about the role Harley will play, Hughes added: ‘John’s an elite young coach with experience of working in a great environment in Chelsea.
‘He’ll have an area of expertise in terms of players he’s played against and who he’s likes.
‘The big bit as well is, I think he’s somebody who has a real eye on what that progression looks like from an elite under-21 academy to a first-team environment.
‘He’ll have a good understanding of the mentality and the mental skills needed to manage that progression because it is tough and it is difficult.
‘But the ones who can do it, you see can jump in and progress really well for their football clubs.’