Emergence of Fab Four offers bright future for Portsmouth – Liam Daish

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Dan Gifford, Harry Jewitt-White, Alfie Bridgman and Toby Steward.

Daish left as the Academy’s lead professional development phase coach at the season’s end, yet during five years at Fratton Park oversaw the development of the highly-regarded quartet.

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Nonetheless, he remains encouraged when it comes to the progress of bright Academy graduates Gifford, Jewitt-White, Bridgman and Steward.

He told The News: ‘Absolutely Pompey fans should be positive about some of the kids coming through at the moment.

‘As ever, players develop at different times and with some it’s about whether the penny drops early.

‘With Dan Gifford, for instance, under-18s football was no longer challenging for him, so he went to Bognor because you know he can cope physically and hit the ground running.

Harry Jewitt-White with Danny Cowley after signing his first professional contract in April. Picture: Robin Jones – Digital South

‘For Alfie Bridgman, it didn’t come until just after Christmas. He excelled in those last three months, suddenly he was ready to go out on loan at Bognor and again did really well.

‘But he wasn’t ready at the beginning of the season, he wasn’t ready at the same time as Dan.

‘What helped with both was Robbie Blake at Bognor, he knows the game inside out, especially forward players like Alfie and Dan, which was a huge help.

‘Harry Jewitt-White has probably spent more time around the first-team in the last year than anyone and held his own. I thought he might have got his debut at the end of the season, but he’ll have to be a bit more patient for it.

‘While Toby Steward is an excellent prospect and only going to get better.

‘All four of them will only improve if they keep the same attitude, but they do need a pathway and don’t want to get lost.

‘The work starts on June 20 when they come back – and will need to hit the ground running.’

Striker Gifford netted 10 times in 25 outings with the Rocks, while left-sided attacker Bridgman struck twice in eight outings.

Wales under-18 international Jewitt-White featured three times for Pompey’s first-team this season, while goalkeeper Steward was handed his first professional contract on his 17th birthday in February.

Daish added: ‘Toby has all the credentials, all the ingredients, he’s going to be a tall, strong lad, is a great shot stopper and has a great attitude.

‘He needs to work on not getting too emotional and too worried about making mistakes, because even top keepers make mistakes. He can tend to be a little hard on himself.

‘Harry went to Havant, probably at the wrong time as they weren’t having the greatest of times and it all comes down to the individual who picks the team.

‘But he copes really well in and around older, experienced players. He’s probably coped better and plays better in and around more senior players, which gives him a bit of an edge.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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