Eastwood hoping Pompey can build team around emerging talent

Jed Wallace in action against Shrewsbury. Picture: Joe Pepler
Jed Wallace in action against Shrewsbury. Picture: Joe Pepler

Simon Eastwood believes Pompey need to build their team around Jed Wallace next season.

Eastwood feels the in-demand midfielder is exactly the type of player who needs to be at the fulcrum of the Blues’ League Two promotion assault.

Wallace has courted plenty of attention since making the breakthrough into the first-team picture this season.

There have been a flood of scouts at Fratton Park keeping tabs on the 19-year-old’s progress.

Eastwood has been impressed with what he’s seen from Wallace, as he bagged six goals and delivered a string of all-action displays.

The keeper feels the former Lewes man should be the focus of Guy Whittingham’s side in the new campaign.

And Eastwood is certain he has benefited from being given his chance as Pompey throw in the young blood.

He said: ‘To be fair, Jed’s one you’d want to keep and build the team around.

‘Because of the situation we’re in he’s played a lot of football.

‘If that wasn’t the case he would maybe have not got a chance. He’s taken that, though, and done well.’

Despite being keen to see Wallace stay, Eastwood knows his team have a tough task on their hands to keep the player.

Pompey have activated a clause to extend Wallace’s existing agreement for another year.

But that won’t stop suitors being keen on the player who made his league debut in January.

Eastwood believes the player has more than shown he can make the grade at League One level.

He thinks Wallace’s thriving self-confidence has a lot to do with that.

Eastwood said:‘I hope he stays but, at the end of the day, that could be quite hard.

‘He went out on loan earlier in the season and proved himself at a lower level.

‘People wondered if he could do it in League One but, to be fair to him, he’s taken his opportunity and proved himself.

‘It’s about confidence. If you have confidence on the pitch it’s a big thing. You will do a lot better with it. It’s his own decision whether he goes.

‘But he’s done well for us for three months and been consistent.’

Eastwood also had a message for Wallace that it could be in his interest to stay at Pompey and enjoy regular football.

He said: ‘We’ll see what happens now.

‘For everyone to play games is massive.

‘It’s massive for him to have that.

‘He’s definitely good enough to do what he’s doing and keep playing games here.’