Pompey talent ready to follow in well-worn footsteps

Dan Butler in action for the Hawks. Picture: Dave Haines

Dan Butler in action for the Hawks. Picture: Dave Haines

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Ashley Harris gave encouragement, Adam Webster handed hope, Jed Wallace provided inspiration.

Now Dan Butler has finally followed his Academy colleagues into the Pompey first-team squad.

Having seen the emergence of Harris, Webster and Wallace into the senior set-up in recent times, the 18-year-old dreamed of emulating them.

Butler has climbed the Pompey ranks with the promising trio, albeit Webster is a year below.

While they were featuring in the festive programme, the East Cowes youngster was earning rave reviews for the Hawks in the Blue Square Bet South.

But on Monday, Brian Howard, Lee Williamson, Jon Harley and Mustapha Dumbuya were informed they were not being retained.

And Butler found himself recalled from his Westleigh Park loan spell to take his place in Guy Whittingham’s squad ahead of Saturday’s visit of Notts County.

He said: ‘It has been my dream to break through and be part of that Pompey first-team squad.

‘Seeing Jed Wallace do that and before him Ash and Adam gives each of the lads motivation and encouragement.

‘It shows it’s possible for any of us to do that, it gives us hope.

‘Jed went out on loan and scored a lot of goals and did very well.

‘Now he’s starting to show he has got enough to be in the first team.

‘For me and the rest of the lads it has been about taking a leaf from his book and keeping going.

‘You tell yourself there is every chance you can also get there if you carry on working as hard as possible.

‘Now I’m in the squad, too, and it’s fantastic. It’s what I’ve been trying to achieve.

‘I owe so much to the Hawks and have learned a lot, especially working under Lee Bradbury. He has taught me so much and I appreciate that.

‘Before I went there I had never experienced men’s football before. I was only playing development games, which really were not making me any better.

‘You cannot play Sunday League football when you sign for Pompey, so I was only ever involved in youth football and the occasional pre-season friendly.

‘I needed it for my development and that is what the Hawks gave me.

‘It has toughened me up a bit, which I needed.

‘I am not the biggest lad but I would like to think I put myself about a bit.

‘Going to play at Havant has made me grow up a lot, I’ve matured as a player.’

Butler made his Pompey debut in the Capital One Cup defeat at Plymouth earlier this season.

He also appeared in four pre-season matches, but it has been at the Hawks where he has flourished in regular first-team football.

He added: ‘I feel a lot better within myself about my football ability.

‘When you are not playing games you are not confident – but playing 11 games I really found myself and what I can do.

‘It has been a good two months at Havant – they are a great group of lads.

‘I trained with them twice a week as well as training with Pompey and feel a lot sharper and a lot fitter.

‘I feel I will be able to perform better and hopefully I’ll get the opportunities with Pompey now I am in the gaffer’s squad.’