Focus back on Portsmouth central midfield options after fresh injury blow to former Manchester United and Luton man

January has seen Pompey’s central midfield options blossom – only to shrink once more for an exasperated Danny Cowley.

Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 12:30 pm

The injury returns of Ryan Tunnicliffe and Louis Thompson allowed Miguel Azeez’s departure to be comfortably absorbed, while the promising Harry Jewitt-White was loaned to the Hawks.

Certainly it appeared the position remained well-stocked, with the Blues boasting four contenders for two spots.

However, another set-back for Tunnicliffe has again exposed that area of the pitch.

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Sidelined since the end of October with hamstring damage sustained in the first half against Bolton, the former Manchester United man was on the comeback trail.

Yet, according to Cowley, Tunnicliffe has now suffered a recurrence of the problem during training.

Having made one appearance in three months, the fear is the 29-year-old could be condemned to the treatment table for another sizable period.

Ryan Tunnicliffe returned to action at Cambridge United earlier this month after 12 games out. Now he's injured once more. Picture: Simon Davies/ProSportsImages

In turn, that leaves Joe Morrell, Shaun Williams and Louis Thompson as Pompey’s central-midfield options at present.

And, in the case of Thompson, the Blues remain ever-cautious not to overburden his workload and risk another injury.

For Tunnicliffe, the latest blow must be galling, particularly as he was inching his way back into first-team contention.

Ahead of the January 18 trip to AFC Wimbledon, Cowley spoke of the importance of handling his summer signing from Luton with care.

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Yet there was a growing enthusiasm towards having Tunnicliffe back at his disposal to bolster Pompey’s midfield.

Cowley told The News at the time: ‘Ryan started a little later (in rehabilitation) than Louis and Clark, so has a bit more to do.

‘We are working him hard off the pitch to try to get him to the condition he needs to be to play his best.

‘He’s a forward-thinking, forward-passing, forward-running player, he’s an aggressive presser, his athleticism and power are very important components to his performance. We just need to get him into the right condition to be able to perform at his best.

‘We didn’t put him on the bench against MK Dons, it was just a decision to give him some more training time.

‘I think whenever a player has been out for a significant period of time, it’s a process.’

Veteran Williams has now featured in 29 matches this season, far exceeding Cowley’s availability expectations.

While Thompson has been involved in the last five games, starting three of them, having recently returned from a hip problem.

Another injury, however, and those central midfield options will once again pose a considerable concern.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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