But home-grown Harry Kavanagh is ready to face those challenges head on to make the Fratton grade.
And the Cowplain lad is targeting travelling that testing path to make his dream of one day captaining the club that’s been his life a reality.
The 18-year-old who’s already had the honour of skippering the under-18 side, took a giant stride forward in his young career with a senior debut against West Ham under-21s on Tuesday night.
Kavanagh started against the Hammers and was one of six academy prospects to make their bows at Fratton Park.
Now, the right-back wants to do everything within his power to stay at the club he joined as a six-year-old.
With the likes of Callum Johnnson, Haji Mnoga and James Bolton ahead of him in the pecking order, Kavanagh knows the size of the task he faces.
But the third-year scholar has the belief he could one day bring something different to Kenny Jackett’s options.
Kavanagh said: ‘I want to keep pushing.
‘I want to make sure I’m here at the end of next season.
‘It’s a tough one for me, because there’s three or four in front of me at the moment.
‘There’s players like Haji and that’s fair enough, but I think I offer something different when I play there.
‘I do really feel I have something different to other, so hopefully the gaffer here shows some faith in me.
‘The only thought in my mind is to be playing here.
‘My dream is to one day captain this club.
‘Whether that happens or not we’ll see, but I’m ambitious and I’m hoping one day that can happen.
‘For now, though, I just need to get my head down, work hard on and off the pitch to hopefully break into that first team squad and be in and around the lads.
‘I play football - but I want to play for this club.
‘A lot of boys come through and want to have a career, but I want to have a career and play for my club. This is my club.’
A loan spell at Gosport in the Southern League premier division has been aiding Kavanagh’s development this term, as he picks up playing time at senior level.
The lockdown has now put paid to that opportunity, but playing time away from Fratton Park to gain experience is something the former Cowplain School student wants to revisit as soon as he can.
Kavanagh added: ‘For me, it’s working on my defensive side, keep improving there and I’ve been at Gosport - so hopefully I can return there after this lockdown.
‘I just need to get as many men’s minutes as possible and then keep pushing this first team here.
‘Gosport’s stopped but I want to get out on loan again when things resume, whether that’s Gosport or anywhere else.
‘I obviously want to play at the best level I can, whether that means stepping up or playing at Gosport.
‘As long as I’m playing men’s football, I feel for me that’s what I personally need so I can keep developing my physical and defensive sides of my game.
‘I just want to be getting as many 90 minutes as I can.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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