Portsmouth caretaker boss Guy Whittingham has admitted that the club may have to put their faith in their young players before the season is out.
Teenagers Adam Webster and Ashley Harris both started the 5-0 New Year’s Day defeat at Swindon.
And he believes Pompey’s fans will provide unwavering support to the younger members of his squad regardless of results.
Uncertainty surrounds just which players will remain at Fratton Park beyond the January transfer window and Whittingham acknowledges that he may soon have little choice but to blood more of the club’s fledgling players.
Dan Butler, Dan Thompson, Elliot Wheeler and George Colson are currently on loan in non-league football.
And the caretaker boss admits they too may find themselves back and in contention for the first-team.
“Who knows what is going to happen at this place – but our fans will back the young kids if they keep trying,” said Whittingham.
“It might be where we go in the future and quite possibly that might be the way we have to go. But we know – as staff and Pompey people – they will get backed all the way.”
“It’s a big learning curve for people like Ashley and Adam and that’s where you want really to introduce them slowly into first-team football at this level.”
“But we might have to take the step and say ‘let’s go for it, they need to learn quick’. You don’t really want to because we have to make sure we protect them but part of that protection is the way the fans react to them – and we know they will be good.”
“We are trying to think of all the different scenarios of what’s going on here. It’s difficult to say whether it will be all kids, half-and-half or bringing some more experienced players in.”
“Whatever it is, if it does end up going that way with kids, everything tells me they will get every support from the fans.”
The trip to the County Ground was the first occasion Harris and Webster have started a league match together.
At a time when confidence is fragile, a 5-0 defeat may have further damaged morale but Whittingham is hopeful that his youngsters will remain strong.
“I don’t know what the defeat will do to the young lads. All you can do is tell them we believe there is a bright future for them in the game and they have got to keep believing it.”
“They will have to learn quickly to deal with situations like this.”