Portsmouth's new coaching arrival on why he quit Southampton for a Fratton Park return

Michael Poke has explained why he quit Southampton to help spearhead Pompey’s Academy ambition.

Saturday, 11th April 2020, 5:30 pm
Updated Sunday, 12th April 2020, 5:57 pm
Michael Poke pictured during his one-and-a-half years as a Pompey player. Now he's back as the Academy's head of goalkeeping. Picture: Joe Pepler

The former Blues player is back at Fratton Park as the youth set-up’s head of goalkeeping, his remit also involving coaching the under-18s and a prospective reserve team.

Poke had spent the last two-and-a-half years with Southampton, the club where he began his goalkeeping career.

The 34-year-old coached in their Shepherd’s Bush-based satellite centre, in addition to working with the nine to 15 age groups at their Staplewood training ground.

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However, the player recruited by Andy Awford in June 2014 yet never made an appearance, is relishing his Pompey role after joining last month.

Poke told The News: ‘The way things were explained to me, Pompey want to develop the Academy, and I think Sean O’Driscoll is going to be a big part in that, really pushing it forward.

‘They are trying to improve and, for me, the big draw was coming back and working with the older age group and with the full-time lads, which is something I’m looking forward to.

‘I made the transition from playing to coaching a couple of years ago – and this is a great opportunity.

‘I will be taking goalkeepers from the 23s and under-18s every day, while overlooking the Academy structure from the nines upwards, which is exciting.

‘Previously I as at Southampton, doing a couple of days in Shepherd’s Bush and then going to Staplewood to work with their nines to 15s.

‘To be fair, it’s a Category One club and a bigger set-up, there are four goalkeeping coaches just for the Academy.

‘But the chance to work with the older, full-time lads, is the next step for me, so I’m delighted to come back to Pompey.’

Poke had been in his new role for just two training sessions before football was suspended over the coronavirus crisis.

He added: ‘The way it was explained to me, next season they’re looking at bringing in a full-time 23s team, so hopefully I can get a good goalkeeping department set-up.

‘Brad Pike has been doing the nine to 15s and I think the club may be looking to expand that next season, including setting up a goalkeeping department, hopefully.’

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