He needs to find himself again: Why is ex-Derby County and Wolves man struggling and how do Portsmouth fill a void at Rotherham United?

Danny Cowley is unlikely to call upon those who played in last night’s woeful defeat to Sutton United in the future.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 4:00 pm
Michael Jacobs under pressure against Sutton

That’s the thoughts of The News’ Pepe Lacey who was in attendance at Fratton Park last night and witnessed the Blues succumb to the League Two side.

Danny Cowley utilised the EFL Trophy clash with the Us to hand his fringe players such much needed minutes, while giving them the opportunity to stake a claim for league appearances.

However, the eight players that came into the side failed to make a name for themselves and fell to a 2-0 defeat at Fratton Park.

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Players such as Michael Jacobs and Paul Downing were brought in from the cold but did little to prove to the Blues boss they should feature more regularly.

And speaking on the latest edition of the Pompey Q&A, Lacey explained how those who featured are unlikely to be considered for the clash against Rotherham on Saturday.

Read below the full transcript to see Lacey’s view on a wide variety of Pompey topics:

Q: First of all, what were your overall thoughts on the match last night?

A: ‘It was poor to be honest. You do have to look at it both ways as it was a EFL Trophy game, but they were playing a League Two side in Sutton United who have only just come out of the National League.

‘It was a real opportunity for the fringe players to get some game time and show they can be viable options in League One. However, by failing to hurt Sutton you have to question if they’re good enough.

‘Louis Thompson really stood out, but other than him I don’t really see many challenging or knocking on the door to get into the first XI off the back of last night.

‘I do worry if the fringe players are needed around Christmas as games like last night show that they’re not capable.’

Q: Was it a wasted opportunity for the fringe players of Cowley’s squad?

A: ‘That was their opportunity to impress, and they ultimately wasted it. The vast majority of them didn’t look good enough which brought a few boos at full-time, but there were some talented and experienced players on the pitch that should have arguably beaten Sutton.

‘There’s a place up for grabs on Saturday due to Curtis’ suspension, but those who could fill in looked so poor last night.’

Q: Why do you think Michael Jacobs is struggling at present?

A: ‘When he arrived at the club, people hailed it as quite a big signing. Wigan fans were genuinely surprised to see him come down to Pompey. He had a run of games and did relatively okay, but picked up a few injuries.

‘That then stunted his progress under Cowley last season which also led to him missing sections of pre-season. Then his transfer to Ipswich fell through and with the injuries already under his belt it may have knocked the confidence out of him.

‘He’s almost soul searching at the minute and he needs to find himself again. There is a quality player in there as he proved for Wigan in the Championship and in League One.’

Q: Who replaces Curtis this weekend with the forward serving a ban?

A: I can potentially see Marcus Harness moving forward to partner John Marquis on Saturday as Cowley will continue using the 3-4-1-2 formation.

‘For the last few games though he has made the position behind the two strikers his own and has flourished there. If he is to lead the line, Cowley may be tempted to push Ryan Tunnicliffe forward and bring Louis Thompson into the side, but the former hasn’t looked settled in the number 10 role.

‘If you change the personnel like for like, you’ve only got Gassan and George Hirst to come in but they were poor last night. Gassan came off early in the second half which reveals all about how he played.

‘Cowley’s got a tough decision to make, that’s for sure.’

Q: How do you fancy Pompey’s chances against Rotherham on Saturday?

A: ‘Cowley’s settled XI are capable of pushing on. The game against Sunderland really showed that the squad is capable of beating higher end teams but Rotherham will be another tough test.

‘They’re almost a yo-yo club as they are in-between League One and the Championship frequently. Any game away from home in League One is a test and Pompey’s inconsistencies may let them down.

‘It’s hard to predict as you don't know which Pompey team will turn up, but after the Sunderland victory they’ll be looking to put together a run of form.

‘A draw would still be a credible result because it’s always valuable to gain something from teams competing at the top end of the table.’