Awford: More to come from Academy

Academy product Jack Maloney
Academy product Jack Maloney

Andy Awford saluted yet another Academy breakthrough into the Pompey first-team and insisted: There’s more to come.

Jack Maloney made his full debut for the Blues in their 1-0 victory over Tranmere on Monday.

It represented a fourth Academy product to be given a maiden Football League start this season.

The others are Adam Webster, Jed Wallace and Dan Butler.

Youngsters continue to tumble off the production line for Awford, Paul Hardyman and Co as their role becomes increasingly crucial.

And the youth boss believes others will also emerge.

He said: ‘To have four of our players start for the first team this season in league football is brilliant.

‘Some will say it is out of necessity and I agree. It would be a different situation if the club was stable.

‘However, they have not let anyone down and that has been the main thing for me.

‘They have gone in there and all made mistakes and will all make more mistakes – but the big thing is they are willing to play.

‘None of them are disrespectful or think they have made it. We are trying to implement what we want them to do and they are listening.

‘I sat down with them two years ago in a room and said three or four would play for the first-team before they were 20 years old because of how the club was going.

‘You either want to graft or there’s the McDonald’s queue. It’s as simple as that.

‘It is a long journey from A to B but they are on the track – and there are others, too.

‘Every year we take seven or eight into the Academy and not everyone is going to make the journey.

‘If you can get two or three every year that investment is well worth it.

‘I know others in our system which will come through and they can see from what the other four lads have done that the opportunities are there.

‘There will be more, believe me.’

Ashley Harris is another Academy product who has come into the first team.

However, he made his full debut last season against Derby in April under Michael Appleton.