Harris: Chaplin won’t lose focus

Conor Chaplin. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142192-6)
Conor Chaplin. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142192-6)

Mikey Harris insists Conor Chaplin’s new Pompey deal won’t distract him from his promising progress.

The 17-year-old forward penned his first professional contract earlier this week after netting two Academy hat-tricks so far this season.

It is ahead of the usual timescale for a second-year scholar, yet such has been his development, the Blues have moved swiftly to tie him to the club.

A hat-trick in the 6-1 demolition of Cheltenham last weekend took Chaplin’s tally to 11 in 11 matches for the Academy this season.

He has also netted in his only start for the reserves, also against the Robins.

Now he has been recognised as a first-year professional but his under-18s manager believes the youngster will remain grounded in his development.

Harris said: ‘It is early for a player of that age to be given first-year professional terms but obviously the people at the club have watched Conor growing up for a number of years.

‘He has done really well with the youth team and now is also performing well in the reserves.

‘We felt as a football club he deserved a pro contract, it was Andy Awford’s decision and myself and Mark Kelly completely agree with it.

‘What has impressed me most about Conor is his attitude and desire to improve and be the best he can possibly be.

‘He is a resilient young man as well, who has had some knocks but keeps coming back and that hunger and workrate fundamentally underpins any talent you may have.

‘Take the Swindon match, for instance, when we were 3-2 down with five minutes to go and Conor missed a penalty.

‘With some lads that would probably be it for the game but he didn’t let it affect him and two minutes later scored the equaliser – for me that speaks volumes.

‘This deal doesn’t really change anything from our point of view.

‘He still trains with us and plays for the reserves, although hopefully may get an opportunity with the first-team by the end of the season.

‘It is all down to how he progresses and, being the lad he is, that is not going to change.

‘Conor is by no means the finished article, he has a lot to learn, as the Academy lads who have stepped up into the first-team squad are even now constantly learning.

‘He needs to keep on progressing for many years to come.’