Appleton wants reserve revamp

Michael Appleton wants to bring back the reserves at Fratton Park
Michael Appleton wants to bring back the reserves at Fratton Park

Michael Appleton wants to resurrect Pompey’s reserve team.

The matter is one of a number the Blues boss wants to address as he strives to transform the Fratton Park infrastructure.

The reserves were effectively scrapped in July 2010.

The decision came just weeks after confirming the Blues would be competing in the Combination League central division.

At the time, the club cited a new policy of sending out players on loan and arranging friendlies as the reasoning behind their decision.

But, since then, just seven friendlies have been staged.

One of those was a rearranged pre-season fixture with Real Betis and another a charity match against FC Rostov.

It has left the likes of promising youngster Ryan Williams returning to the youth team for game time. Meanwhile, Lewis Stockford and Lewis Tallack have been loaned to non-league sides.

And Appleton wants to address the situation.

He said: ‘Ideally, you would like to have a reserve team in your football club.

‘Even if they were not playing in a league, you would want one.

‘There are certain clubs in the midlands who don’t actually play in a reserve team league but have a lot of friendlies.

‘I definitely would like to have reserve team football back – but, ultimately, there is a lot of work to be done before that.

‘The reserves do help if you have injuries.

‘You can give people the opportunity to get a game or two before they get involved in the first-team fold.

‘It’s very difficult for players, especially young players, to train Monday to Friday and have nothing to look forward to on a weekend.

‘The situation at the minute is you’ve got young Ryan Williams, who is obviously more than capable of training and playing with the first team.

‘Yet, to get his games at times, he has to go with the youth team.

‘That is why sometimes young players have to go out and play non-league football or semi-professional football if they are good enough and ready to do it.

‘You don’t want them to have the surprise element of what league football is all about if they are given the opportunity.

‘It’s not an ideal situation but it is not right up at the top of my list of priorities at the minute.

‘But when I get a chance for a full indication of where we are from an infrastructure point of view, then we will tackle it.’

As it stands, there is no buffer between Andy Awford’s Academy set-up and the first team. At one time that gulf was filled by Guy Whittingham’s development squad.

Now Appleton has been charged with moulding Pompey from top to bottom.

And revamping the reserves is on his agenda.