Pompey boss encouraged by next generation of talent

Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler

  • Pompey have now signed up four members of the current Academy crop to professional contracts
  • May and Oxlade Chamberlain were unused substitutes against AFC Wimbledon
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Paul Cook has hailed the ‘outstanding’ next generation of Pompey talent.

And he has backed the Blues’ newest first-team intake for bright footballing futures.

These are young lads taken on on the back of you having seen something in them with a chance of progression – but they have so far to go

Paul Cook

Earlier this week, Academy trio Alex Bass, Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calvin Davies were handed first-year professional deals.

They followed the example of team-mate Adam May, who earned a two-year contract in August 2015.

Cook has long insisted he intends to reduce his sizeable Pompey squad for next season.

Yet he remains interested in bringing through the young talent being supplied by Mark Kelly’s Academy.

And Pompey’s boss believes the latest crop can have an impact in the professional game.

He said: ‘All those lads who have earned their contracts have done really well.

‘These are all outstanding young lads and have great qualities.

‘If they work hard, stay focused, put the hours in and practice they have a chance to be players.

‘So much goes into the Academy and when players get to 17 or 18 probably people still don’t know what the future holds.

‘But they come into the professional ranks with great optimism.

‘These are young lads taken on on the back of you having seen something in them with a chance of progression – but they have so far to go.

‘Between being an apprentice in general and being a pro there is still so much hard work to do, yet these are smashing lads.

‘Our Academy is run very well, we continue to produce players, which is great credit for the club.

‘When you come through administration it can be tough on all clubs, dictating where you are and where you can go.

‘Yet our club has continued to produce young players and deserves plenty of praise.’

Oxlade-Chamberlain was an unused substitute alongside May in Tuesday night’s victory at AFC Wimbledon.

The pair both featured in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat at Exeter City in September, as did right-back Davies.

Bass has yet to make his first-team debut, although has sat on the bench as substitute goalkeeper 33 times during the campaign.

An option for Cook will be loan out the youngsters next season to aid development.

Yet at present, he is undecided.

He added: ‘We will wait and see whether we loan any out.

‘You have got to look at the balance of your squad and areas of the pitch which are important.

‘When you put your squad together people don’t realise that players have to have a different effect on a squad.’

Meanwhile, Dory Yates has been give an additional six months to win a deal.

He dislocated his ankle in October and recently returned to action.