Danny Cowley reveals why ex-Blackburn centre-half Paul Downing has been overlooked for his Portsmouth back three

Despite seemingly a natural fit, Paul Downing finds himself omitted from a Pompey back three – and Danny Cowley has explained why.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 5:30 pm

The Blues have employed left-footed midfielder Shaun Williams and right-back Kieron Freeman in their new-look defensive system of late.

The pair joined Sean Raggett as Pompey’s back three for successive 2-2 draws with Plymouth and Charlton.

Centre-half Downing has watched both matches from the bench, an absence also coinciding with skipper Clark Robertson’s quad injury.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Yet, despite having one recognised central defender in his back three and a clash with Burton tomorrow night (7.45pm), Cowley is prepared to continue overlooking Downing.

He told The News: ‘At the moment, Paul’s in the match-day 18. I trust himl and he has to wait for his opportunity.

‘He didn’t do as well as we would have liked in the game against Cambridge United, but he was just one of 11 who didn’t do as well as we would have liked.

‘On that day, not many came out with credit and, off the back of that, he was probably one of the unfortunate ones, if you like, to be left out. After a performance like that a whole lot of them could have been.

Paul Downing has been overlooked for a back three in Pompey's last two matches, despite being a centre-half. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘But Kieron gives us an awful lot in possession. He has full-back qualities which I like in the defence.

‘Kieron, Marcus (Harness) and Mahlon (Romeo) gave Charlton loads of problems.

‘Look at our first goal, if that’s scored in the Premier League everyone is talking about it and it’s being shown on Sky Sports time and time again.

‘It has gone from goal line to goal line. We’ve attracted the press, Kieron has drawn two players, passed it onto Ryan Tunnicliffe, who has sped it up.

Read More

Read More
For the latest Pompey news direct to your inbox sign up for our free newsletter

‘There’s rotation from Marcus out wide, creating the space for Mahlon to come into, and he has then played it to Ronan, who scores.

‘There is a lot of detail which goes into that goal – such a good goal.’

While Pompey appear to have got back their attacking mojo, defensively there remain concerns.

With six goals conceded in three League One matches, it’s a developing trait which concerns during a run of six league games without victory.

Cowley added: ‘We want them to win, we want teams to be really pleasing on the eye, teams who everyone enjoys watching, but we must also accumulate points.

‘My whole life has been about winning and I’ve always found ways to win, but we do want to play.

‘We want to enjoy our football and I am conscious it has got to be winning.

‘Here’s hoping we can play a game which is really pleasing to watch and good to win. That’s the perfect performance for me.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

You can support our local team of expert Pompey writers by subscribing here for all the latest news from Fratton Park for less than 13p a day.