Portadown boss Matthew Tipton felt the time was right for Pompey’s latest recruits from Northern Ireland to make the switch to England.
It emerged this week that Portsmouth had added teenagers Gerard Storey (17) and Harry Anderson (16) to the Fratton Park youth ranks.
The duo follow in the footsteps of compatriot Eoin Teggart, who moved to the south coast from Cliftonville last summer, after impressing when on trial with Mark Kelly’s side.
Both midfielder Storey and striker Anderson have represented Portadown’s first team in the Bluefin Sport Championship. And Tipton is confident the pair are ready for the next step in the careers.
“Ideally, they’d have played a few more games for our first team and helped us get to where we want to get to,” said Tipton. “But it’s every boy’s young dream to go over and play in England.
“We felt it was the right club and the right time for both boys and they were treated brilliantly when they went over.
“It was magic to get the deal over the line.
“Neil Sillett (head of academy recruitment) came and watched Gerard play in an under-17 international around February.
“He went over and did really well and we knew they wanted to sign him, so it was about getting all the paperwork done and processed.
“While that happened they asked if we had anyone else.
“Harry and another lad went over and Portsmouth were interested in both but we decided it was better for Harry to go and the other fella to stay for another year.
“In terms of relationships between the two clubs, it’s been brilliant.
“We’re disappointed they have gone but I am excited for their chances in the future.”
Given Storey and Anderson have played senior football at such a young age, Tipton wasn’t surprised Pompey came knocking.
“It was always going to be the case,” he said. “Given the average age of my squad is 19, scouts are there every week.
“My job as first-team manager is to win matches and if someone 16 is my best player then so be it.
“First and foremost they have to play well for us to get the opportunity and with these two that has happened.
“In terms of our level, it’s hard to gauge, but probably around National League South.
“It’s senior football and we challenge them to play in our first team because it stands us in good stead and they need it.”