Danny Cowley on why he doesn't want a target man as goal-shy Portsmouth's need for striker escalates

Danny Cowley has laid bare the essential attributes a new striking arrival must possess in order to ignite Pompey’s spluttering goal-scoring potential.

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 12:00 pm

Outside League One’s bottom three, only Shrewsbury have scored fewer times than Pompey this season.

Understandably, recruiting a new striker tops the Blues head coach’s wish list during the January transfer window.

Presently loanee George Hirst and John Marquis are the only centre-forwards on Pompey’s books, with winger Ronan Curtis lending a helping hand in recent months.

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Despite a league placing of eighth, Cowley’s men are positioned 12th in terms of expected goals, with 1.43.

And Cowley has pinpointed the particular skill set required for any January attacking arrival.

He told The News: ‘We haven’t quite scored the goals that our play and chances have suggested.

‘If you look at expected goals, we are quite a way behind that, so we do need to be a little more clinical and more ruthless with our final action.

John Marquis can't believe it as a late Pompey chance goes begging against Cambridge United - although the striker was flagged offside. Picture: Simon Davies/ProSportsImages

‘As we proved on Friday (against Exeter), when you dominate in the first half like that, you have to be winning that game at half time.

‘We are clear on the type of profile that we’d like to bring in, we know the qualities we want.

‘I call them a (number) nine-and-a-half because they can do it all. Play it into them and up to them and they can use some mobility as well.

‘Not a target man, target men sometimes don’t give you the mobility you’d like.

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‘So for us, it’s the balance of being able to play up to them, to be able to link the play, and be unselfish with their behaviour in those moments.

‘But also to have enough movement to stretch the opponent and allow us to still play on the transition.

‘As we’ve seen so far this season, we’ve had a lot of success on the counter attack, so you need players that are good in that moment too.

‘And, most of all, I like forwards that can score flippin’ goals.’

In contrast to Pompey’s 28 goals from 23 League One matches, their defensive record is impressive.

A return of five successive league clean sheets has helped drive down an expected goals return of 1.25 – the fifth lowest.

With Ellis Harrison joining Fleetwood and Gassan Ahadme returning to Norwich, not only are the Blues light on goals, but now also short of numbers in that position.

Cowley added: ‘For us, a striker is to compete with the players we already have at the club.

‘We want competition for places in every position. That’s healthy for any squad and certainly drives the standards in regards to performance.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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