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Safety first as Hart targets Pompey survival

Portsmouth caretaker-boss Paul Hart will not allow himself to think about what job he might be in next season but admits he has been bitten by the management bug again.

The 55-year-old steadied what looked a fast sinking ship since stepping up from his role as director of youth operations at Fratton Park to take charge of the first team following the departure of Tony Adams.

The 3-0 home defeat by a youthful Arsenal side was only the third of his 11-game tenure, with those losses being to each of England's Champions League semi-finalists.

Hart, though, continues to stay focused on the short term, with Portsmouth still not yet 100% certain of their top-flight status.

''I know you won't believe me, but I have not allowed myself to think about anything other than finishing the season,'' said the former Nottingham Forest and Barnsley boss who also had a spell in charge of the Leeds Academy during the 1990s.

''I am not allowing myself to think about the future, dream or anything like that.

''I am dealing with the next game. Once we can say we are safe, then the club has decisions to make.''

However, Hart admits it has ''rekindled'' his hunger for the job.

''In a perverse way I have quite enjoyed it,'' he said.

''It has probably rekindled something I did not want to admit was there, because I made a career decision to go back into youth development.''

The futures of what is an ageing Portsmouth squad will have to be sorted out one way or another come June.

Hart maintains no-one can look too far ahead.

''Whatever decisions need to be made will not be made now and may not necessarily be made by me,'' he said.

''We have to make sure we stay up first.

''I do not know how you can make a decision on players' futures when you do not know if you are staying in the league.''

Arsenal fielded youngsters Carlos Vela, the Mexico forward, Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey and Poland keeper Lukasz Fabianski at Fratton Park, while Portugal under-21 international Amaury Bischoff and 19-year-old Fran Merida came on in the second half.

''The youth development programme is not just about eight, nine or 10-year-olds - it goes up to 21, 22 and takes patience to develop,'' said Hart, whose young Leeds side won the FA Youth Cup twice with the likes of Jonathan Woodgate going on to play for the first team.

''It is living proof that two of the best programmes are Manchester United and Arsenal, and their managers have been there the longest.''


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