Pompey mulling over Harris start

Ashley Harris scores at Carlisle. Picture: Allan Hutchings (122823-715)
Ashley Harris scores at Carlisle. Picture: Allan Hutchings (122823-715)
Reuben Sammut

Pompey bide their time over midfielder

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Pompey boss Michael Appleton is weighing up whether to unleash Ashley Harris on Bournemouth from the start.

The Purbrook talent is in the frame for tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash following another highly-encouraging substitute appearance.

The 18-year-old once again caught the eye in a 23-minute cameo against Oldham at the weekend after replacing Liam Walker.

Following on from his goal-scoring entrance at Carlisle the previous week, it has stoked up fans’ calls for the home-grown youngster to be given a starting spot.

It is an option Appleton is considering as he looks to make changes to the side which so disappointingly lost to the Latics.

Josh Thompson is set for a debut, while Kevin Long will be back following his one-match ban.

The Blues boss is also considering granting Harris a place in his starting line-up.

And he acknowledges it would be a decision to lift tonight’s Fratton Park crowd.

He said: ‘Ash can sometimes be a catalyst for us.

‘I think his performances off the bench have shown maturity rather than when he has actually started games.

‘The fans appreciate when a local lad comes onto the pitch and I know he will give it everything.

‘At times we might have to use him off the bench and give everyone a lift.

‘But there will be changes tonight, people who did not play on Saturday will get games.

‘There will be a few of them chomping at the bit to get a chance and try to do something and Ash is definitely one of them.

‘There are probably three or four in there who want an opportunity.

‘When he came on against Oldham he was very direct in what he tried to do.

‘I thought he brought a little bit of composure.

‘What he has got is he obviously strikes the ball very well and looks to get shots off early – and he did just that on Saturday.

‘The lad gave us a little bit of a spark, a little bit of an impetus.

‘There will be changes and I will be amazed if Bournemouth don’t do the same considering the size of their squad.

‘However, with the limited numbers we have there are only a certain amount of changes I can make.’

Jordan Obita is suspended following his weekend red card.

Meanwhile, Lee Williamson is not yet ready to return from the hamstring injury sustained in his second Pompey match.

However, Appleton is seeking to delay Mustapha Dumbuya’s international departure to ensure he can feature.

The 25-year-old has been called up for Sierra Leone’s Africa Cup of Nations clash with Tunisia on Saturday.

That will rule him out of Sunday’s visit to Crawley.

But Appleton is hopeful the former Doncaster right-back can delay his flight to feature tonight.

He added: ‘I think we can get away with letting him go tomorrow.

‘I will have to check the rulings on whether we can or not.

‘Obviously we want Muzzy to play as many games as possible for us.’