Why rumours of Portsmouth Academy decline are exaggerated - Danny Cowley's praise after teenage trio handed first-team debuts

Pompey’s often-maligned Academy demonstrated its production line of talent is still in impressive working order.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 12:30 pm
Academy youngster Harvey Hughes made his Pompey debut in Tuesday night's 3-0 win over Crystal Palace Under-21s. Picture: Robin Jones/Digital South

And Danny Cowley hailed the contribution of those overseeing the Blues’ newest first-team debutants.

They were joined by substitute Izzy Kaba in making Pompey bows in the Fratton Park encounter.

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In addition, Harry Jewitt-White and Alfie Bridgman, who had previously turned out for the first-team, were employed off the bench.

And Cowley admitted seeing the emergence of Pompey’s youngsters was just as cherished as the result.

He told The News: ‘We’ve got to get the Academy going haven’t we – and it was a really good night for the Academy.

‘I am so pleased for Greg (Miller), for Liam (Daish), James and everyone associated with the Academy. We know how much hard work goes in.

‘It’s still very early into our journey with the Academy, but we know how important it is to bring our own players through if we want to have sustainable success.

‘We wanted to play some of the kids against Sutton United in the previous group game, but Sutton are so big, strong and powerful.

‘It’s my job to try to set the young players up for success and it would have been a very hard night to play against that Sutton team. So we had to wait – and it’s a shame.

‘It we had played the Palace game first, they would have taken confidence from that and then could have played the next one.’

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At 17 years and 20 days, Payce was the youngest of the Academy trio and the only first-year scholar.

The diminutive midfielder featured on the right flank for 88 minutes, before replaced by Bridgman.

Hughes, from Lyndhurst, New Forest, turned 18 earlier this month and completed the full 90 minutes at left-back.

Finally, defender Kaba entered in stoppage time for Gassan Ahadme, with the Blues seeking to see out a 3-0 victory which earnt progress into the knock-out stages.

Cowley added: ‘I watched Adam (Payce) against Erith in the FA Youth Cup last week and what caught my eye is he’s a first-year, organising everyone.

‘He knows where his space is. He was trying to organise people positionally, so he could create space for himself and then create space for others. I can see the intelligence in his game.

‘He’s a central midfielder really, but there are no (available) wingers in the Academy or first-team at the moment.

‘With Harry (Jewitt-White), it was decided he would come on at half-time.

‘We wanted Louis Thompson to use it as a training session, giving him more 11 v 11 exposure, which is what we thought was needed.

‘Harry played with such maturity, he used the ball really well, switched the play for us, made some driving runs and positionally defensively did great.

‘Harvey (Hughes) did great as well. Palace cause a lot of problems in wide areas with the way they play, but he dealt with that really well.

‘In the second half he grew into the offensive side, there were some good attacking runs and some good crosses.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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