Guy keen to develop right formula

Youngster Jed Wallace has emerged as a key player for Pompey since the turn of the year
Youngster Jed Wallace has emerged as a key player for Pompey since the turn of the year

Guy Whittingham has pinpointed Pompey’s development squad as key to the club’s rebirth.

The Blues’ caretaker boss believes Dan Butler and Jed Wallace’s elevation to the first-team picture in recent weeks shows the importance of the set-up to the club’s future.

Pompey have seen both Wallace and Butler follow the likes of Ashley Harris and Adam Webster into the first-team squad in recent games.

They have both been involved in the past four matches, highlighting the significance of the group from which they have emerged.

The development squad acts as a conduit between the Academy and first-team for young players after they have been awarded a senior contract.

Both Wallace and Butler have had spells out on loan this season, with non-league sides Whitehawk and Hawks respectively.

Whittingham feels that has also been key to their education and benefitted other development squad members.

Dan Thompson (Dorchester and Bognor), Alex Grant (Eastleigh and Hawks), Elliot Wheeler (Bashley) and George Colson (Dorchester) have all gone through the same process.

They could come into Whittingham’s consideration over the remainder of the season as Pompey look to the future.

The development squad was introduced in the summer – but with money tight it was far from a simple process to see that happen.

Whittingham believes its relevance has been underlined, however, and it should stay in place moving forward.

He said: ‘There was a big decision in the summer over the development squad and it was shown to be the right one.

‘Although Ashley and Adam were included in the first team, they were given that chance to play.

‘And Jed and Dan have come through that, so we are glad we did it.

‘I think it’s important to have that process and have younger players going out and playing games. You keep these players but you get them out on loan.

‘They then go and ply their trade somewhere locally in the non league and we keep an eye on how they are developing.

‘That’s the reason for them to be out on loan. To get games.

‘So if we do need someone to step in, like Dan or Jed did, they are ready to go.

‘Dan played eight games for Havant & Waterlooville and Jed around 12 for Whitehawk. That’s the reason they were out there for that.

‘That may be the way to go moving forward. That’s where we have to be for the next few years.

‘We are going to have to produce our own players like that.

‘We are not going to be in a position to pay a lot of money to bring them in, so that’s what we are going to do.’

Whittingham has a youthful vision for Pompey moving forward, with the days of lavish transfer fees now a distant memory.

But he feels that has to be complemented by a foundation of experience.

The boss has been impressed with the likes of David Connolly and Sam Sodje and how they have taken on the responsibility of helping younger players.

He reckons choosing the right men for that role is a key element to helping the squad’s young guns.

Whittingham said: ‘You need a core of experienced players.

‘That doesn’t mean they have to be in their 30s. It can be someone who’s 25 or 26 and played a lot of games.

‘We need a group of experienced players to help the younger players out at this time.’