A classic number eight who's ready League One after Aston Villa release - the lowdown on reported Portsmouth, Hull and Blackpool target

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Pompey are reportedly keen on midfielder Jake Doyle-Hayes.

Although there’s some doubt whether the ex-Aston Villa man is a Blues target, we got the lowdown from Jon Palmer, Cheltenham Town reporter for Gloucestershire Live, where Doyle-Harris spent last season on loan.

First of all, what sort of midfielder is Jake Doyle-Hayes?

I'd say he is an all-rounder. Cheltenham played 3-5-2 last season with one sitting midfielder, one behind the front men and one who did a bit of both – that was Doyle-Hayes.

He contributed both defensively and attack-wise.

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Doyle-Hayes was quite highly rated when he arrived. While he'd been on loan at Cambridge the season before, his spell was quite injury-hampered.

He'd shown some good signs at Cambridge but hadn't played a lot. However, he started the season strongly and became a key man as Cheltenham went all the way to the play-off semi-finals.

Considering how little experience he'd had, he was one of Cheltenham's top performers in what was their best season for a long time.

Jake Doyle-Hayes, linked with Pompey, spent last season on loan at Cheltenham Town. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty ImagesJake Doyle-Hayes, linked with Pompey, spent last season on loan at Cheltenham Town. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images
Jake Doyle-Hayes, linked with Pompey, spent last season on loan at Cheltenham Town. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images

Ryan Broom got all the plaudits for Cheltenham but was Jake Doyle-Hayes up there in terms of top performers?

He was. Broom played in the No10 role and registered a lot of goals and assists but Doyle-Hayes did a lot of the dirty work.

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He is mobile, tenacious and chipped in with a couple of goals.

Doyle-Hayes and Conor Thomas played in behind Broom, which gave him the foundations to have the freedom he did.

Doyle-Hayes showed good discipline. They have quite a rigid structure under Michael Duff and did what was asked.

What's his best position?

At Cheltenham, he wasn't given as much freedom as Ryan Broom but Doyle-Hayes is a classic number eight.

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If I had to say, he's probably his best just as a sitter but got a lot going forward.

I'd say he gets up and down and last season both attacked and defended very well.

What attribute of his stood out the most?

The thing that stood out was his tenacity for his age and how he handled himself in League Two against some big, uncompromising midfielders.

He'd never let anyone get the better of him despite only being 21.

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Doyle-Hayes is a lovely lad off the pitch and quite unassuming. He's polite and unassuming is the word to describe him.

But on the pitch, he's fearsome and had a bit of bite about his play.

Pompey have maybe lacked someone who can drive forward with the ball from midfield so far this season. Is that something Doyle-Hayes could bring?

It's obviously a step up from League Two but he can dribble, tackle and pass.

Cheltenham didn't let many goals in last season and part of that was because of the back three and the solidity in the midfield.

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They didn't get done by anyone really in midfield before the play-off semi-final second-leg defeat against Northampton.

Before lockdown, Cheltenham had won five games and drawn one – he was a big part of that.

Cheltenham had the best defence in the league by a mile and Doyle-Hayes was part of that solid team who were almost unbeatable at home.

Doyle-Hayes was an automatic starter if available. He didn't come in and out the team, have a good game then a bad game.

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Because it was his first long-term long loan, Cheltenham might have thought he'd have been up and down being so young but that wasn't the case.

Did he appear too good for League Two, especially towards the end of his loan spell?

The talk was that Cheltenham would have loved to have signed him permanently but knew he was destined for League One, at least.

The general view was he needed to go higher and hopefully he got a lot out of his experience.

I'd have been amazed if he'd have ended back at Cheltenham based on how well he played for his age.

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He looks ready to take on the challenge at a good League One team.

Doyle-Hayes has been well brought up and is technically good. He's got the fire to play in central midfield higher up.

Although he was on loan from the Premier League club, he always had the right attitude. He never thought he could cruise his way through games and had that real work ethic as well as ability.

Cheltenham have brought in a lot of loanees over the years and some maybe think "why am I at a League Two club, I should be in the Premier League?"

But Doyle-Hayes' attitude couldn't have been any better.

He kept people like Rowan Ince, who did well for Brighton a few years ago in the Championship, and Chris Clements who's had quite a good career.

It was testament to how well he did.