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Kelly: A Sad Way To End

Academy manager on the premature conclusion to the season

2 May 2020

Mark Kelly
Photo: Colin Farmery

There is still plenty of speculation about when – or even if – the 2019/20 season will resume at first team level.

But the EFL have already confirmed that the campaign has come to a premature end for academy teams.

Pompey’s under-18 side were three games into the Merit League, having qualified for the higher division after finishing third in the Youth Alliance standings.

Some of those players will now depart the club and Mark Kelly admitted it was a disappointing way to end their Blues careers.

The academy manager said: “It’s been a strange one. The lads had just started the Merit League start of the season and then we all went into lockdown.

“It’s a particularly tough time for the second year scholars, who wanted to finish the games programme together.

“A lot of the group have been together since the age of 11 or 12, so it’s a stranger feeling and quite sad really.

"In terms of where and when, none of us have got any answers at the moment, but we all have to be prepared."

Mark Kelly

“We’ll obviously be there to help the boys who are moving on and provide support when it’s needed.

“Those who are coming back for next season have to make sure they remain in good shape and are ready to roll.

“In terms of where and when, none of us have got any answers at the moment, but we all have to be prepared.”

Many of the academy youngsters also appeared in reserve team fixtures this season and Kelly has been pleased with their progress.

He said: “We played plenty of games and were pleased with an awful lot of what we saw from them.

“It was a young group competing in the Premier League Cup matches and we were often giving away four or five years.

“But that challenge was a good one and we got a lot out of it, while also showing quality in our football.

“I also have to praise the attitude and application of the group throughout the season, which has been fantastic on and off the pitch.”

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