Portsmouth teenage starlet Haji Mnoga sets first-team target after impressive return

Haji Mnoga has set a target of making his Pompey bow league this season.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 12:00 pm

The Blues’ teenage talent made his return from injury in the 2-1 EFL Trophy win at Walsall last night.

The 17-year-old is back in contention now, however, and the club quickly took steps to tie down the Southsea prospect to a senior contract last month.

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The Walsall outing was Mnoga’s fourth at senior level with three previous Checkatrade Trophy outings last season.

Now the ambition is for the former Trafalgar School pupil to get into league contention before the season is out.

Mnoga said: ‘I’m just happy to be out there playing really.

‘I feel like I could’ve been around it a bit more but I’m just happy to be playing.

Haji Mnoga shone against Walsall. Picture: Paul Thompson/ProSportsImages

‘Hopefully I can pick up some league minutes now..

‘I’d maybe like to get some more appearances in this cup and even the other cup.

‘But my main goal is to get my League One debut.

‘That would be amazing, whether I come off the bench or start.

‘I want to be pushing to get into the team and I have to keep knocking at the door to do that.’

Despite his youth, Mnoga looks physically capable of handling the step up to men’s football and more than held his own against Walsall on that front.

The academy graduate feels he can deal with that challenge and his target is to focus on technical development to match his size.

He added: ‘I have got that (physicality) and I like getting about the pitch and using my body. That’s not really a worry for me.

‘So the focus for me is getting all the technical bits in, getting the ball, playing it forward and attacking.

‘I can still develop my physical side as well, though, because you’re never really there.

‘There’s some big guys and the tall ones can be a problem.

‘But against the physical ones I’m able to get stuck in. Whether I’m going to come out on top or not I’m still going to keep battling.

‘I’ve always battled since I was younger and I will keep doing that.

‘I did that even before I got bigger but around 14 I started growing.

‘Now I feel I can carry myself better on the pitch and men’s football is what I’m aiming for.’