A tale of strikers past, present and yet to come

Ryan Bird celebrates his second goal in the 3-2 win over Exeter Picture: Joe Pepler

Ryan Bird celebrates his second goal in the 3-2 win over Exeter Picture: Joe Pepler

COMMENT: Let’s hope Hawk’s wings are not clipped before it flies

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It appeared a tale of Pompey strikers past, present and yet to come.

In a week which follows the heralding of one of our favourite sons, Charles Dickens, at Fratton Park a Blues attacking carol arrived at a fitting moment.

Taking the form of the Ghost of Pompey Past was John Marquis, sullenly floating around Frogmore Road before melting into the ether on Saturday.

Then comes the spirit of Pompey present, Ryan Bird – a jolly being appreciatively taking his existence from dream world to reality.

And, now we wait for what could be the most dramatic appearance – the Ghost of Pompey Yet to Come.

That phantom menace for League Two defences appears in the form of a certain Jake Jervis – a man who could be about to make a huge transformation to the Blues following his appearance at PO4.

Anyone who saw Jervis in action against Pompey for Carlisle last August knows that is not hyperbole.

In recent times, we’ve been let down by the men touted to have a huge impact at the level Pompey were operating.

Dave Kitson and Liam Lawrence were supposed to walk through Championship defences. Brian Howard and Akos Buzsaky were backed to rip up League One.

But Jervis, undoubtedly, has what it takes to be the most feared striker in the fourth tier of the English game.

Guy Whittingham wasn’t at Brunton Park last season when Jervis served up a display which ranked as the best from an opposition player against Pompey.

He heard the rest of the Pompey coaching staff waxing lyrical about his quality, however, when the Fratton think tank came together on the Monday morning.

Michael Appleton made it a priority to land the player but his stay was a short one, with a single start and a goal arriving before injuries at parent club Birmingham saw him recalled.

Jervis then made an ill-fated move to Turkish football with Elazigspor.

It may not have worked out for him there, but scoring against the likes of Fenerbahce proves his level.

Pompey have had to show patience in their bid to bring him in, as they wait to see if a three-and-a-half year contract signed in January has been cancelled.

With Jervis still 22, the last thing needed is a bill to land on chief executive Mark Catlin’s desk for training compensation.

The move is one to fuel optimism, however, and that is something flowing from every pore Ryan Bird possesses at present.

Bird’s story is one which could thaw Ebenezer Scrooge’s heart.

It was only a couple of years ago that the 25-year-old was playing as a defender for Burnham in Southern League division one central.

Then he found himself thrown up front and told to get on with scoring goals for his team, despite never playing there before in his life.

He did what he was asked 45 times last season – and that is without a second’s coaching in the role.

Bird is raw, there’s no doubt about that, but his attitude and desire give him every chance of being the best player he can be.

His two headers against Exeter showed a clinical side to his game, and his likeable demeanour ensures he will be wished the best in his quest to make it in the professional ranks.

Marquis is facing a test to be afforded the same support, after throwing his kit into a bag and scampering away from Fratton Park at 1.40pm on Saturday.

That was his reaction after the Millwall loanee had been told he had been left out of the Pompey squad to face the Grecians.

Whittingham was his usual measured self when speaking about Marquis afterwards. Others wouldn’t have been so diplomatic.

Like every good narrative, there’s a twist, though, with Marquis taking to Twitter on Monday night to launch a defence of his actions.

Our Ghost of Pompey Past has been afforded the benefit of the doubt by fans after some tumultuous form.

He may not have floated away just yet, but he needs to move carefully.

Bird, our striker of Pompey present, will be given every chance by those same supporters – because of his attitude.

And the Fratton faithful look forward to the Ghost of Pompey Yet to Come helping ensure there’s a happy ending to this tale.

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