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Academy

Greg Miller's Academy Update

News from the Pompey age groups

4 January 2024

Academy

Greg Miller's Academy Update

News from the Pompey age groups

4 January 2024

With the under-18s, we have tried a change of tack and looked to get players out on loan much earlier than in previous years, partly because of the number of second year scholars we have and partly because of the benefits of them competing in men’s football and our ability to assess how they deal with that.

That means we’ve lost a little bit of consistency in our own team performances this season because we’ve had boys coming and going at times. Our results have tailed off in the Youth Alliance League in the past few weeks and that’s disappointing to an extent, but the positives are that we’re getting minutes for players in senior football and we’ve made it to the regional final of the Youth Alliance Cup.

Earlier in the season, we also saw Koby Mottoh gain some experience with the first team in the Carabao Cup and Bristol Street Motors Trophy, while Mitch Aston and Sam Folarin also featured in the latter competition. So as we reach the halfway stage of the campaign we’ve seen some definite signs of progress, but would like to see a little bit more.

There was the disappointment of having beaten one of the toughest men’s opponents we could have faced in the Hampshire Cup, Gosport Borough, we then went out to a team from a much lower division. But we’re still testing ourselves in the Portsmouth Cup and we’ll continue to get that balance right of looking to challenge our players – and where that challenge will come from. For some of them it will be consistent games against men while out on loan, while for others it will be more sporadic in those cup competitions.

In terms our other age groups, we have a joint squad at under-15 and under-16 level and there’s been some good progress from those boys. We’re seeing signs of the under-15s stepping into under-16 starting positions on a more consistent basis and that’s been created by many of the under-16s moving into the under-18 roles when they’re out on loan.

We’re accelerating many of our individuals and, as per EFL rules, we had to make decisions on those under-16 players just before Christmas. It’s always quite a nervous time for them and we wanted to wait until they had finished their mock exams before we conveyed our decisions on next season’s scholarships.

We’ve tried to increase their game exposure in the Youth Development Phase and have played a lot more midweek fixtures. We feel the learning that takes place in a match environment really helps their progress, especially when they’re against older opponents. We’ve recently had games against teams from categories two and one, and have fared particularly well.

A couple of years ago, we revolutionised what our scouting and recruitment team looked like, with a vastly bigger head count and also improving their expertise through FA qualifications. As a result of that, we feel that in the younger age groups, we’re now bringing in a lot of players who have the option to join other local professional clubs. So we’re in the competitive mix and it means that when we do face those higher clubs, we’re doing really well. The end product of that is, of course, many years down the line, but we’re seeing those encouraging green shoots.

Finally, we have a number of young practitioners in the academy and we’re trying to develop them as individuals. Our head of coaching James Barlow has worked hard to put in place robust action plans and hopefully as we all grow, we’re better equipped for producing more players for the club going forward.

Happy New Year to you all.

Greg Miller
Academy Manager


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