Pompey scrap reserves

Paul Cook
Paul Cook
  • Pompey’s reserves played 19 fixtures last season
  • They were originally scrapped by Steve Cotterill in July 2010

POMPEY have scrapped their reserve side.

Manager Paul Cook has taken the decision in the interests of operating with a smaller first-team squad and reducing demands on young players.

The demands can become too much on young lads, especially when they are trying to develop, so we felt we could strip it back a little bit

Leam Richardson

Last season the Blues finished second in the south division of the Final Third Development League.

They also have an outstanding fixture to play in the semi-final of the league’s cup competition.

It was the first year of the resurrected structure, designed to provide regular reserve matches.

However, a fixture backlog resulted in the Blues playing eight games in the final six weeks of their campaign.

The vast majority of those line-ups contained Academy players, who also had youth fixtures to fulfil.

Now Cook has pulled Pompey out of the league, with a focus on playing behind-closed-doors friendlies instead.

And assistant manager Leam Richardson is adamant it is the correct decision.

He said: ‘When we came in we thoroughly went through quite a few things.

‘We quickly realised a lot of the young lads had played 50/60 games last year through the reserves, the youth cup and their youth football.

‘The demands can become too much on young lads, especially when they are trying to develop, so we felt we could strip it back a little bit.

‘The manager likes young lads to practice a lot, to have the mundane kind of basic practice to become better as an individual.

‘If they are playing that many games they are not going to be able to get quality practice in and quality games.

‘It is important you look at a whole spectrum of things and get a good meaning to what you are doing.

‘Of course we will still play, we won’t miss out on games. There are enough quality teams around our area to ensure you can get minutes into legs and these will be behind closed doors.

‘We didn’t have a reserve side at Chesterfield. We arranged matches and had balanced games, which were good for the lads.

‘I actually think there is a good place for reserve football. People need to play so I am not one to dismiss it.

‘But this is where we are at the minute and we are happy with our plan.’

Cook is striving to operate with a first-team squad of around 20.

And for those out of the picture, the club are keen to organise loan spells.

Richardson added: ‘The gaffer is very keen for people to play.

‘The previous couple of years we’ve had numerous times when every professional at our club was playing, which is what you want.

‘That is how you get to learn, how you get your education. You don’t learn a lot if you don’t play on a Saturday.’