Ex-Burnley and Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cotterill defends Portsmouth record on blooding home-grown talent

Steve Cotterill has defended his Pompey record on blooding promising youngsters.

Joel Ward, seen here against Barnsley in February 2011, featured 46 times under Steve Cotterill in 2010-11. Picture: Allan Hutchings
Joel Ward, seen here against Barnsley in February 2011, featured 46 times under Steve Cotterill in 2010-11. Picture: Allan Hutchings

The former Cheltenham boss spent 16 months at Fratton Park after taking over following Premier League relegation.

During that period, he received criticism over the sale of Matt Ritchie to Swindon, while Marlon Pack was allowed to leave on a free.

Yet Cotterill points to the utilisation of Joel Ward as a Blues regular and overseeing Adam Webster’s emergence into the first-team environment as evidence of his commitment to youth.

While he also bought Jed Wallace for £25,000 from non-league Lewes.

He told The News: ‘Sometimes when you don’t play a young lad, people think you don’t like them or don’t fancy them.

‘It’s nothing to do with it. It’s about whether they are ready to play in the first-team or not.

‘I’ve seen lots of players who have actually been ruined from going into the first-team too early. What happens is they get judged and all of a sudden are not good enough.

‘There have been bucket loads over the years, not just at Pompey.

‘Every club I have been at, there will have been young players who have come through the ranks. Loads of them.

‘At Cheltenham it was Michael Duff, Stoke there would be Kris Commons, at Burnley Jay Rodriguez, while I gave Gary Cahill his debut there.

‘At Nottingham Forest, Jamal Lascelles was another I brought through and gave his debut. Patrick Bamford happened in the same season.

‘With Pompey, I gave Adam Webster his first contract and signed Jed Wallace, while Joel Ward played regularly.

‘There would have been a couple more I would have liked to have kept and brought through, but we were only allowed a 20-man squad.’

Local lads Ward and Ritchie were handed debuts by Avram Grant at the tail-end of the 2009-10 Premier League campaign.

Ward subsequently featured 46 times and scored three goals during Cotterill’s first season at Fratton Park.

While Ritchie appeared eight times before loaned to Swindon. The move became permanent for an undisclosed fee in January 2011.

Cotterill added: ‘At the end of the day, I wanted to keep Matt at Pompey. However, there were other financial issues which were taken out of my hands.

‘The bottom line is he ended up moving on – but I would have wanted to keep him.

‘In terms of numbers and other financial issues, it was taken out of my hands.

‘He was a tough lad with a brilliant attitude, I really liked him. To this day, whenever he changes his mobile number, I always get a message off him.

‘We got on fine, there were no issues there.

‘Sometimes there are things you can’t speak about when you are manager of a football club – and I wouldn’t want to necessarily speak about them now because they are private matters.’

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