Danny Cowley determined to overhaul goal-shy Portsmouth attack in January - with Leicester and Norwich loanees under threat

Danny Cowley is ready to rip up his mis-firing Pompey attack in January.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 12:56 pm
John Marquis has scored 11 goals in his last 48 appearances for Pompey. Picture: Robin Jones/Digital South

And the Blues head coach is targeting a new centre-forward to add the cutting edge his team so obviously lacks.

The News understands Pompey are prioritising a striker and central defender when the transfer window reopens.

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The former Lincoln boss is also desperate to bolster his striking options after becoming increasingly frustrated with the top end of the pitch.

Pompey were unable to offload Ellis Harrison and John Marquis last summer – and the pair have frustratingly continued to come up short for the Blues.

The ongoing loan arrangements of Gassan Ahadme and George Hirst are also under scrutiny having so far struggled at Fratton Park and can potentially be cancelled in January.

In fairness to Harrison, he has been restricted by injury to just eight outings and is presently still sidelined.

That has meant Marquis ruling unopposed as first-choice centre-forward in the Pompey side, despite four goals in 17 appearances.

It’s a damning indictment of the talents of Ahadme and Hirst, who have failed to force their way into the team despite of Marquis’ troubles.

Yet Marquis’ malaise hasn’t merely been restricted to this season, with 11 goals coming in his last 48 outings, while playing under two contrasting managers.

The former Doncaster man requires genuine competition, while Cowley needs a reliable alternative who can slot straight into the first-team and make a positive impact.

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In the case of Hirst, he joined Pompey on a season-long loan from Leicester, yet his presence can be re-evaluated in January.

The youngster has struggled to impress, failing to score in 13 outings, albeit primarily from the bench.

Hirst’s sole starts have arrived in Papa John’s Trophy defeats to AFC Wimbledon and Sutton United, although he may be handed a rare opportunity in the FA Cup against Harrow Borough on Saturday.

His role has largely been as a late substitute, certainly reflecting a difficult task to impress during such a short time on the pitch.

Damningly, though, Hirst has been unable to convince Cowley that he warrants selection ahead of the struggling Marquis.

As for Ahadme, he has failed to live up to expectations created by a pre-season in which he rattled off eight goals in four appearances, including a hat-trick against the Hawks.

Despite starting the campaign in Cowley’s side, the Norwich loanee has largely disappeared from the first-team frame.

His selection as an unused substitute in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Cheltenham represented only the third time he has made the 18-man squad in the last 12 fixtures.

Cowley speaks highly of the 20-year-old, praising his work ethic and attitude, yet continues to overlook him as a striking alternative, having not netted in seven outings.

As loanees, Ahadme and Hirst offer a greater degree of flexibility to create space in Pompey’s squad when compared to the contracted Harrison and Marquis.

It’s something for Cowley to consider as he strives to bring in the fresh striking talent he so desperately requires.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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