Striker told to earn Pompey future

Pompey youngster Ashley Harris
Pompey youngster Ashley Harris

Ashley Harris has been told: Prove you deserve a Pompey career.

The talented 19-year-old is currently on loan with the Hawks and has been given permission to feature in their FA Cup second-qualifying-round clash at Gloucester City tomorrow.

That means he will be cup-tied for the Blues this season, whereas fellow Hawks loanee, Ryan Bird, has not been made available by boss Guy Whittingham.

Harris has seen his Pompey first-team chances evaporate in recent times – but he has also found himself on the bench for Lee Bradbury’s side, too.

Now Whittingham believes it’s down to the Purbrook teenager to show his determination after admitting the youngster is at a crossroads in his career.

He said: ‘Ash needs to grasp the nettle and say “I am going to make a professional career out of this”.

‘That’s what he needs to do at this moment in time.

‘He is out of contract at the end of this season so he needs to impress people.

‘But that is no different to anyone else.

‘There are plenty of young players out there who have had that situation and plenty who have proved they want to make it. Ash has to be one of those. I think he will.

‘He knows he has got support here from people.

‘You have difficult times in football and it’s not always rosy, but you have to battle your way through it.

‘He is a determined guy and, technically, he’s a good player – but he has to make sure his attitude is spot on every time he is on the training pitch.’

While Harris’ Hawks loan was expected to give him regular games to restore form and confidence, Bradbury was also looking to bring in a different type of striker.

Whittingham explained: ‘Lee wanted a big target man, first and foremost.

‘When he asked if Ryan was available, he wasn’t. That’s when he took Ash.

‘Things change and when John Marquis was available, we felt it was an ideal time to get Birdy out on loan.

‘So now he is there as well, Ash needs to force himself into the side.’

And Harris should now get a chance to stake a claim with Whittingham concerned at his lack of first-team action.

He said: ‘Ash has got an opportunity to play tomorrow.

‘He can play because we thought he would be better off having a game.

‘I’m a little bit concerned for Ash that he is not getting games.

‘He came on the scene as a young kid, he was getting games and then has not featured at all.

‘It has happened to us all as players and it will always happen.

‘Managers and coaches can’t afford to wait and you’ve got to step up to the mark every single time you are on the training ground or in the team.

‘You’ve got to deal with it as a player.’