Danny Cowley on what next for Portsmouth striker search as resurgent Leicester loanee and ex-Sheffield Wednesday man sparkles

Danny Cowley’s January striker search remains active, despite George Hirst’s blossoming form.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 4:55 am

The Leicester loanee has flourished having been entrusted with four successive Pompey starts in the injury absence of John Marquis.

With two goals and an assist during that period, Hirst has emphatically succeeded in winning over a Fratton faithful which had largely doubted his talents.

In addition to the 22-year-old’s emergence, Ellis Harrison has returned from injury, while Marquis was this week back in training.

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Nonetheless, a new striking addition remains on Cowley’s radar when the transfer window reopens.

The Blues’ head coach told The News: ‘George needs to look in the mirror sometimes and realise what he is capable of.

‘It’s about giving him confidence, which all players need to play at their best. George has been a real positive and I have been really pleased for him.

‘As a team, we are very much a work in progress, we have lots to do in terms of the training pitch and keeping on improving.

Danny Cowley congratulates George Hirst after his goal-scoring contribution in Pompey's 3-0 win at Lincoln. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com

‘That is also in terms of recruitment, to get the balance in the squad which we need to be a team befitting this wonderful football club.

‘You are always working incredibly hard to make sure you have covered every contingency. You know football is fast moving, so you have to be ready to adapt.

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‘What you have to do is never clear, it’s not categorical, so you have to be really adaptable, you must think of every eventuality, every possibility.

‘You must ensure you’ve done all the necessary background work so, when January comes, you’re ready to react accordingly.’

Before netting against Lincoln on Tuesday night, Hirst had gone 43 Football League matches without a goal.

That spanned loan periods at Rotherham as well as Fratton Park, although the bulk of his appearances had come off the bench.

Clearly his finish in Pompey’s 3-0 success over the Imps represented an important landmark for the ex-England youth international.

Having joined Pompey on a season-long loan in August, Hirst’s arrangement can be cancelled at January’s halfway point.

Yet the striker has been a revelation in his last four appearances to suggest he’s remains a worthy presence with the Blues.

Cowley added: ‘George has always been on a season-long loan. I think he’s a good kid and wants to do well, he works hard at his game.

‘This last week will be massive for him, and now he needs to build on this. That Lincoln goal was so important for a number nine.

‘All players need belief and sometimes, not just George, players don’t realise how good they are and what they are capable of.

‘Sometimes they have to back themselves and really commit.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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