The striker turned in a magnificent display to inspire the Blues to a brilliant 3-0 success over Rotherham last night.
Hirst was the architect for Marcus Harness’ goal, while the Leicester City loanee also netted his 11th of the season, with Clark Robertson grabbing the other.
Certainly the 23-year-old had something to prove against the Millers, where he spent an unhappy spell last term, failing to score in 32 outings.
Realistically, the Blues know they will be unable to bring fellow loans Gavin Bazunu and Hayden Carter back to the south coast.
Yet there’s genuine optimism over potentially securing Hirst for longer – whether it be a permanent arrangement or another loan.
Cowley told The News: ‘George has been great and let’s hope we don’t have to replace him.
‘We’d like to sign him, extend the loan, do whatever we can. We have to, these are the young players that we want to try to sign.
‘I think their parent clubs have respected the way we’ve looked after them and helped them, supported them. I hope, as a consequence, our relationship with those clubs has got stronger and they trust us.
‘Sometimes when players are on an upward curve and making rapid progress, you want to keep them going. I would if it was my loan player.
‘I still think that for George there’s another stepping stone before he gets into Leicester’s first-team, and I don’t mean to be disrespectful, I’m being realistic.
‘I just think this is a relationship which works, so why can’t we extend that or sign permanently? We haven’t got any number nines.
‘I don’t know if it can happen, I want it to and would like it to, but I don’t know.
‘I’m respectful of Leicester and Brendan Rodgers, they have been very kind to lend George to us, so I don’t think it’s for me to answer.’
Hirst has now netted 11 times in 41 appearances since arriving at Fratton Park on the eve of the League One season.
The ex-Sheffield Wednesday striker has blossomed with regular first-team football and, according to Cowley, helped create Pompey’s best goal of the campaign.
The Blues boss added: ‘The second goal was my favourite goal this season.
‘Gavin’s throw, George’s receive and the way he drove past and the cross – then the timing of arrival from Marcus (Harness).
‘Overall, George played well, he held the ball up, linked the play, played with a point to prove, and I thought the way he led the line. The way he stretched the pitch was excellent.
‘He had a frustrating time at Rotherham last year and is getting better and better.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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