Ricky Holmes warned Jed Wallace: Don’t get distracted by transfer talk.
The 19-year-old midfielder’s future has been the topic of discussion amid a rich vein of form that has seen him score in each of Pompey’s past three league fixtures ahead of today’s home clash with Bury.
With four goals to his name, the Blues’ joint-leading goalscorer is attracting plenty of interest from clubs – and has yet to put pen to paper on a new contract that is currently on the table at Fratton Park.
Speculation is increasing that Wallace could be the subject of a January bid or leave at the end of this season, but Holmes has offered some sound advice to his team-mate to maintain his focus.
‘Jed has got to stay level-headed, keep his feet on the ground and keep doing what he’s doing. That’s what got him noticed in the first place,’ said Holmes.
‘I told him that when he was having a tough time at the start of the season.
‘There was some talk but a move didn’t happen.
‘He needed a kick up the backside, and once he got it, he realised he’s got to prove himself as he did last season.
‘Even when I was on the bench, I put an arm around him because he was having a tough time.
‘I was joking saying “Gaffer, are you having a laugh? He’s not doing it, I can get on there”.
‘But he just needed a bit of encouragement and now he’s got his confidence back.
‘I think he’s been brilliant for us. He has been picking up those little pockets and that’s where his goals have come from.
‘He’s a good kid, we get on well and I think he’s got a bright future in the game.’
While the former Barnet man has witnessed plenty of youngsters make an impact on the game, the 26-year-old has also seen those same players drift out of it all too quickly.
He said: ‘I’ve seen a lot of talented young players but a lot of it comes down to mentality, I think.
‘Some can get a bit too big for their boots, sit back and think they’ve made it.
‘They rest on their laurels and think a move will come.
‘But football can be ruthless. You can be on fire for a month, but if you have a couple of bad months, suddenly you can be scrambling to get a club. Simon Ferry was in that position in the summer.
‘I played against him and he was the best player in the league when Swindon got promoted but then couldn’t get a club.’
Holmes and Wallace have struck up a good friendship, even though they have often been rivals for selection.
‘We said in pre-season we didn’t think we would get on because we’re fighting for that position.’ said Holmes.
‘But Jed works hard, he’s quick and he’s got all the attributes. He’s taller than most wingers and his finish against Plymouth was at the next level.
‘If he doesn’t sign a contract, I’m sure he will go on to the next level -– whether that’s with Portsmouth or another club.’