Whittingham concedes he may have to go with Pompey’s youth

Guy Whittingham has admitted Pompey may have to put their faith in the youngsters before the season is out.

But he believes Blues fans will provide unwavering backing and patience to get them through.

Teenagers Adam Webster and Ashley Harris both started the New Year’s Day defeat at Swindon.

Fellow Academy product Jed Wallace also came off the bench to make his Football League debut during the second half.

But with more players set to leave during the transfer window, Whittingham may soon have to blood other youngsters.

The likes of Dan Butler, Dan Thompson, Elliot Wheeler and George Colson are currently on loan in non-league football.

And the caretaker boss acknowledged they too may find themselves in the first-team this season.

He said: ‘Who knows what is going to happen at this place – but our fans will back the young kids if they keep trying.

‘It might be where we go in the future and quite possibly that might be the way we have to go.

‘But we know – as staff and Pompey people – they will get backed all the way.

‘The crowd didn’t disappear and boo against Swindon, although they had every right to do that after the first half against Yeovil.

‘They stayed and applauded and I just find it incredible the way they support us like they do.

‘It’s a big learning curve for people like Ashley and Adam and that’s where you want really to introduce them slowly into first-team football at this level.

‘But we might have to take the step and say “let’s go for it, they need to learn quick”.

‘You don’t really want to because we have to make sure we protect them.

‘But part of that protection for them is the way the fans react to them – and we know they will be good.

‘We are trying to think of all the different scenarios to what’s going on here.

‘It’s difficult to say whether it will be all kids, half-and-half or bringing some more experienced players in.

‘Whatever it is, if it does end up going that way with kids, everything tells me they will get every support from people.’

The County Ground visit was the first occasion Harris and Webster have started a league match together.

At a time when confidence is already fragile, the 5-0 defeat would have further damaged the squad morale.

Whittingham is hopeful the youngsters will remain strong, though.

He added: ‘I don’t know what the defeat will do to the young lads.

‘All you can do is tell them we believe there is a bright future for them in the game and they have got to keep believing it.

‘They will have to learn quickly to deal with situations like this.’