Youth chief: Pompey production line thriving

Mark Kelly has backed the Pompey production line to maintain its prolific results.

Harvey Bradbury in action against Manchester City last season. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Harvey Bradbury in action against Manchester City last season. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

And he believes the current crop of Fratton Park talent can catch the eye of supporters tonight.

The Academy this evening host Eastleigh in the first round of the FA Youth Cup (7pm).

The competition has regularly provided the stage for a number of Pompey success stories.

Last term it took a Manchester City goal nine minutes from time to eliminate Mikey Harris’ impressive youngsters.

The likes of Conor Chaplin, Adam Webster, Jed Wallace, Ashley Harris, Dan Butler and Jack Whatmough have all progressed into first-team football in recent times.

And Academy boss Kelly is convinced the system can continue to thrive.

He said: ‘At this moment in time there are some good players at this club right across the board, it’s really vibrant and fresh.

‘The 15s and 16s have been doing excellently this year, there are some boys who are really, really standing out in those groups.

‘We are very pleased where it is and the production line will keep itself moving, especially in the next three or four years, that’s for sure.

‘Like any model, you have to keep it moving forward, that’s the important thing, so planning is going into how we can keep that strategy and the kids moving forward.

‘Players emerging has been a year-on-year thing.

‘You see Brandon Haunstrup, Adam May, Alex Bass, Jack Whatmough, Adam Webster and many others – it has been very productive.

‘They are on their journey now and it is about keeping those still in the system moving on their own personal journeys.

‘Every year we work extremely hard to keep that production line going.

‘The pleasing thing is there are some boys doing really, really well in a lot of age groups, so we are really pleased where that is and are looking to ask questions from them all the time.’

Leading scorer is Harvey Bradbury, with six goals in 10 appearances for Pompey’s under-18s.

The striker netted against City in last year’s 2-1 third round defeat after entering as a substitute.

Pompey are also assessing the fitness of mainstays Jez Bedford, Kyle McDowell and Theo Widdrington.

Kelly added: ‘You have to perform on the stage, you have to learn on the stage and for some of the first years who will play it will be their first step into that.

‘This will be where they want to be so they need to embrace it and enjoy that part of it.

‘All expectations are it is going to be a good evening for every one of the boys to come and play at Fratton Park.

‘We know there will be a crowd and it will be a good occasion for everyone, an enjoyable event.’