What's next for Leon Maloney after eye-catching full Portsmouth debut

Leon Maloney in action against Crawley. Picture: Joe Pepler
Leon Maloney in action against Crawley. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Mark Kelly believes Leon Maloney did himself proud on his full Pompey debut. 

Now it’s up to Blues boss Kenny Jackett to decide what’s next for the fledgling winger.

Maloney delivered an eye-catching performance in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Crawley in the EFL Trophy.

It was only his second senior outing after being an unused substitute against QPR and Blackpool in previous games. 

The third-year scholar spent a brief period training with Dutch side FC Volendam last month but a loan switch did not materialise.

It means Maloney could now head out to a non-league side or Jackett may decide to keep him around the first team.

Regardless, Kelly heaped praise on the Isle of Wight-born ace’s display against League Two Crawley. 

Pompey’s youth chief said: ‘He's a good kid and we know he has the ability to run at people, beat people and score goals.

‘He scored regularly as a kid growing up with us through the different age groups and he looked like he enjoyed it.

‘He grew into it as the game went on and it was nice to see him playing with a smile on his face and delivering things we know he can.

‘Leon got his opportunity and he did himself proud.

‘The plan now is to develop him, get him in with Ken and see where the manager wants to take him.

‘If it is out on a loan deal or him being in the squad, because he’s stepped out and showed where he is, it’s just a matter of managing his position.

‘We will do that in the weeks to come.’

Maloney had a shot saved in the first half at Fratton Park, while his dangerous cross led to the corner which yielded Brett Pitman’s match-winner. 

And Kelly was delighted the 18-year-old showed his prowess in the final third.

He added: ‘I’m certainly not surprised but Leon also knows where he needs to develop and work on.

‘It was nice to see him play with the confidence and freedom to go and express himself.

‘If you're a creative player then you've got to create things and that was the nice thing about it.’