Appy tells Academy youngsters: Impress me

Ashley Harris got his first-team chance after impressing in last year's FA Youth Cup
Ashley Harris got his first-team chance after impressing in last year's FA Youth Cup

Michael Appleton has told Pompey’s next generation: Impress me.

Andy Awford’s Academy face Southend in the FA Youth Cup tonight.

Appleton will be among those in attendance at Fratton Park (7pm kick-off).

For the youngsters, it will be a prized opportunity to grab the attention of the Blues boss.

Appleton promoted Ashley Harris into first-team training after he caught his eye during last season’s cup run.

The Purbrook youngster played a starring role in the 5-1 demolition of Bristol City last December, scoring twice.

Harris has since made 18 appearances for Pompey.

Adam Webster was also fast-tracked into Appleton’s set-up. On Wednesday night he made his England youth debut for the under-18s. And Pompey’s manager insists members of the current crop could follow in their footsteps should they excel this evening.

Appleton said: ‘It’s a strange one because when I first came in, there were a group of players like Lewis Tallack and Lewis Stockford in and around training with the first team.

‘It wasn’t until I went to the youth cup game against Bristol City that I saw a few others.

‘That is when I first saw Ashley Harris. Up until that youth game he had not trained with me, no-one had mentioned him to me.

‘I remember watching and saying to Awfs (Awford) and Guy (Whittingham) at that time I wanted him with us. I wanted a better look at him.

‘Adam wasn’t playing because he was injured at the time. A couple of staff mentioned there was a good one injured at the minute and to be aware of him.

‘The likes of Ash and Adam benefited from training with the first team quite a lot last year and then getting thrown in every now and again.

‘I think there are two or three players in the youth team at the minute who could and should be training with us a bit more than they are.

‘So I will be an interested observer tonight watching that to see who potentially could be in and around us for a few months.’

Of the Academy side, Jack Maloney and Bradley Tarbuck made their senior debuts in the Capital One Cup at Plymouth.

Defender Jack Whatmough was an unused substitute that night.

Other regulars under Awford have been Josh Warren, Liam Triggs and George Branford.

Appleton added: ‘This is their chance.

‘It’s an opportunity to come and train and spend more time with the first team.

‘I have seen only bits and pieces. It’s difficult.

‘But there are two or three of them who have come and trained with us who have handled it really well.

‘That’s why I want to see them at their own level in a big game at Fratton Park in a competition that, at some point, everyone has played in.’