Youthful vision is key to winning respect

Bradley Tarbuck, left, runs at the IBV defence after scoring in the friendly win against Hermann Hreidarsson's side at Fratton Park
Bradley Tarbuck, left, runs at the IBV defence after scoring in the friendly win against Hermann Hreidarsson's side at Fratton Park

Guy Whittingham pinpointed Pompey’s Academy as being critical to the club’s future.

Whittingham underlined the importance of the Blues’ youth set-up in giving his squad a long-term foundation moving forward.

The Fratton Park boss has made it clear he intends to use home-grown players in his senior set-up for the foreseeable future.

Whittingham has spoken passionately of the club’s need to balance the books and not spend beyond their means under the control of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust.

He is a strong advocate of that policy as the Blues try to build bridges and win back respect in the game after twice falling into administration in two years.

That means a focus on the Academy, which new chief executive Mark Catlin has promised will remain in its existing form.

The youth set-up faces challenges, with top-category clubs allowed to introduce development centres in the city under the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).

Chelsea have done just that, with the likes of Spurs expected to follow suit.

But Pompey have plans to launch up to 20 development centres as part of their link-up with new kit makers Sondico.

Whittingham feels there are players ready to follow the likes of Jed Wallace, Ashley Harris, Dan Butler, Adam Webster, Jack Maloney and Nick Awford into the first-team set-up.

He said: ‘The Academy will run next year. It’s important for us.

‘There is talent in the Academy and that goes down through the age groups. That is where we are going to be for the next five or six years. I doubt very much if we are going to be able to buy players.

‘Until we’ve paid our debts, I don’t think we should have to.

‘Last time we paid some wages which were mind boggling.

‘That’s why the Academy is important. It’s bringing your players through and saves on wages.

‘You produce your own players. That’s what people want to see.’

Whittingham feels the recent friendly with Hermann Hreidarsson’s IBV side showed the talent that could continue to flow into the senior set-up.

The Blues manager opted to play a host of youngsters in that game, with the likes of Harry Medway, Jack Whatmough, Liam Triggs and Bradley Tarbuck featuring.

That proved a worthwhile exercise in educating both the players and the manager about what they can achieve.

Whittingham said: ‘I wasn’t too keen on the Hermann game at first. We had the home game on the Saturday to think about.

‘I had to make the decision not to play any of the first team. Then we played the kids and I wasn’t sure how that would go down.

‘But, by the end of the night, we were stood there feeling what a worthwhile exercise it was.

‘There were 6,500 in for a friendly with kids who had never been tested in an arena like that. To see how they coped was important.

‘There were three or four I looked at and thought “blimey”.

‘They did well and we learned a lot. The game showed the quality we have coming through.’