Danny Cowley on problems of filling attacking role as he considers Ronan Curtis to solve Portsmouth striker crisis against Rochdale, Wigan Athletic and Burton Albion

Danny Cowley is weighing up Ronan Curtis’ suitability to solve Pompey’s striker crisis.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 6:30 am

But the new Blues boss admitted the Republic of Ireland international faces a crash course in leading the line, if he opts to throw him forward in the absence of an out-and-out senior front man.

Cowley is considering the best solution to that issue, which will impact the next three games with John Marquis suspended and both Jordy Hiwula and Ellis Harrison sidelined through injury.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

Curtis appears the most natural of the options the management team have at their disposal, with the 25-year-old used up front in the second half of the Cowleys’ first game in charge against Ipswich.

The former Derry City man has experience playing as a striker from his time in Ireland and has indicated it’s a role he’s keen on reprising moving forward.

Cowley feels Curtis has the attributes to lead the line for Pompey, but also highlighted fluidity is part of his thinking going into the next run of games.

He said: ‘We’ve had really good conversations with Ronan over where we see him fitting into our team.

Ronan Curtis could be asked to play as a striker against Rochdale today

‘I like the front end of the pitch to have flexibility.

‘I’m not really interested in positions, to be honest, they are just spaces.

‘I just want the players to play in the spaces where they feel confident to execute their skills.

‘I think Ronan can execute on the left wing, left half space, central space, the right half space and the right wing.

‘He can do all of that really.’

A clear issue for the Cowleys to contend with, is Curtis is likely to have just a single training session before going into the Rochdale game after returning from international duty.

The winger will at least be fresh after not being used by Stephen Kenny in games against Serbia, Luxembourg and Qatar, but Cowley has to balance conveying his messages on how he wants his chosen option to play up front with the intricacies of operating in that position.

He added: ‘I think the number nine role is a really unique and specialised role.

‘Johnny Marquis has developed an understanding of what’s required in the role over a very long time.

‘It’s not an easy job for the number nine, technically, tactically, physically or psychologically.

‘Psychologically you’re expected to score goals regularly. You can play really well, not score and be criticised.

‘You have to be able to cope with the pressure of being a number nine.

‘From a physical point of view you’re playing up against two players and it’s probably the only position on the pitch where there’s two or even three men marking you.

‘From a technical and tactical point of view, there’s the type of runs to make and the timing of those runs.

‘There’s playing with your back to goal and the pressure coming from behind you.

You have to be able to play on the half turn, you have to be able to move and run and receive the ball behind the opposing defence.

‘That’s before I talk about trying to find space in the most congested area of the pitch.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

The News has launched a subscription offer which gives you unlimited access to all of our Pompey coverage, starting at less than 14p a day.

You can subscribe here to get the latest news from Fratton Park - and to support our local team of expert Pompey writers.