Pompey weigh up future for second string

Ben Close fires in a shot in the reserve team clash with Bournemouth. Picture: Colin Farmery
Ben Close fires in a shot in the reserve team clash with Bournemouth. Picture: Colin Farmery

POMPEY are still undecided about the future of their reserve team.

The Blues have yet to choose the best way forward for the second string next season.

There are a few things to think about.

Ian Foster

First-team coach Ian Foster explained there has been no decision made on whether to make a return to league action.

Pompey last season successfully resurrected the reserve team under Paul Hardyman.

They went on to finish second of eight clubs in the Final Third Development League.

More importantly, however, it gave a regular platform for emerging youngsters to play with senior squad members.

Paul Cook took the decision to pull out of the league in the summer when arriving at the club.

Cook later admitted that was a decision he regretted when undertaking a deeper analysis of his options.

Instead a number of friendlies against the likes of Reading, Crawley, Cardiff and Bournemouth were lined up for the players needing minutes.

A meeting with Liverpool was also mooted before falling through.

Foster explained there are a lot considerations for staff before choosing the path ahead.

He said: ‘I don’t know if anything is definite in terms of next season yet.

‘We’ve had some very good games against development squads from the Championship and Premier League.

‘It’s been great for our players to have that. If we joined a reserve league next season, we won’t get to play that type of opposition, so there are a few things to think about.

‘It’s tricky to organise these fixtures, especially at this time of the year with heavy pitches.

‘If I organise too many, the groundsman would kill me.

‘Some lads need minutes and some lads need to take a break, so it’s tricky to get the right balance.’

Foster explained the priority of getting Pompey organised at first-team level was key when the new management team arrived.

Ultimately, it will be down to Cook to decide what lies ahead beneath that level.

Foster said: ‘When we came in, we had to focus on the first team but we knew enough people in the game to be able to arrange these games.

‘That wasn’t an issue for us.

‘It will be down to the manager for next season on whether he wants a development squad or to enter the reserve league.’