Academy told to show mental strength

Adam Webster was on target in Pompey Academy's win over Bournemouth     Picture: Barry Zee
Adam Webster was on target in Pompey Academy's win over Bournemouth Picture: Barry Zee

Pompey’s Academy side have been challenged to show their mental toughness to continue their winning form.

And coach Paul Hardyman believes the side will need all that psychological strength when they go to Bolton in the FA Youth Cup next month.

The Blues are on a flying six-game winning run, which they extended with a 3-1 win over Bournemouth last weekend.

That was another decent display and kept up form which contrasts with the first-team’s current plight.

Hardyman explained there has been extra focus on mental aspects of the players’ games of late.

That will be put to the test when they go to Premier League Academy big-guns Bolton on December 10 in the cup.

The Trotters are flying high in their National Group table and will present a stern test on their own patch.

Confidence is brimming among the Academy at present, though, and the test is to show the right attributes to keep their run going.

Hardyman said: ‘We’re on a good run and have won six and drawn one of our past seven games.

‘We’re working on the mental side of the game and how that is important to players.

‘We’ve looked at the technical, tactical and physical side of things.

‘But, being a professional sportsman, you have to show that mental toughness.

‘I’ve been in teams which have won promotions and been relegated.

‘I know when it’s not going your way you can feel you have a chance at 0-0, but if the first goal goes against you, you think “oh, no here we go”.

‘You have to be mentally strong and mentally strong with your team-mates.

‘You look for leaders and your strong characters to do that.

‘Going to Bolton in the cup is one of the games we’re talking about.

‘Bolton are the equivalent of Manchester City in the Academy league.

‘It’s a tough challenge but will enlighten the boys about the attributes they need and the standard we’d like them to have.

‘We expect to go there and give a good account of ourselves.’

Adam Webster was among the goalscorers on a whirlwind afternoon for him as the Academy beat Bournemouth 3-1 last Saturday.

Webster got the second goal in the win before being taken off after 60 minutes and racing down to Fratton Park to take his place on the bench for the first-team’s game with Doncaster.

Jae Heon Kim and Lewis Horsburgh got the Academy’s other goals.

Pompey stage an Academy fundraising race night on Friday at Fratton Park. It’s free entry to the event which begins at 6.30pm in the Victory Suite.