'He’s a Portsmouth boy and Pompey supporter, the club has a good place in his heart': Danny Cowley on facing the transfer target and ex-Chelsea midfielder who got away

For Danny Cowley, he was the one that got away – now Pompey’s one-time summer transfer target will face the club he rejected.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Friday, 19th November 2021, 8:26 am

Luke McCormick was highly coveted following his release from Chelsea, where he came through the ranks alongside Mason Mount and Trevor Chalobah.

Yet the 22-year-old turned down the chance to come to Fratton Park in favour of a July 2021 switch to AFC Wimbledon.

The attacking midfielder has enjoyed an impressive start to life at Plough Lane, making 19 appearances and scoring three times for the 18th-place team.

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Cowley admits he pursued the signing of McCormick last summer – and revealed the youngster’s background as a Pompey fan.

The News understands that, while an admirer of the midfielder’s qualities, Pompey eventually stepped away to focus on other targets.

And, ultimately, Wimbledon snapped up the former Shrewsbury and Bristol Rovers loanee.

Pompey’s head coach told The News: ‘I think it was well publicised that we like Luke and would have liked to have been able to sign him.

Luke McCormick has impressed since AFC Wimbledon beat Pompey to the signature of the former Chelsea midfielder. Picture: Jacques Feeney/Getty Images

‘We saw a lot of potential in him, like Wimbledon did. He’s a Portsmouth boy and Pompey supporter, the club has a good place in his heart.

‘But it wasn’t possible for us to sign him. Credit to Wimbledon, they have changed their strategy, they have really attacked, they were very aggressive in the window, particularly with young players.

‘Their strategy, which I completely understand, is trying to recruit the top young players at this level to then try to develop them and sell them as assets.

‘I don’t want to talk too much about other people’s players because I don’t think that’s fair, but Luke was definitely one that we wanted.

‘For us as a football club, the strategy is to find young players on the way up. They are the type of players we’d like to sign, they have to be ready to play and contribute in League One.

‘We have signed one or two that are younger than that and maybe the tier down, but certainly when you are talking about the likes of Luke, who have been out on loan, he is League One ready.’

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McCormick made his Football League debut against Pompey in August 2019 during a loan spell at Shrewsbury.

Last term he scored six times in 42 appearances during a season-long loan at Bristol Rovers.

That included both encounters with the Blues, the most recent a 1-0 Fratton Park defeat in April.

Cowley added: ‘Luke’s a player with technical ability, he has the ability to receive it on the back foot, speed the play up, and can play in a variety of attacking positions.

‘He has good ability to time arriving in the box and carries a real goal threat.

‘There are lots of attributes to like, as there is with Jack Rudoni and Ayoub Assal, some of the best young attacking players in the division.

‘We have probably watched Wimbledon’s last 10 games between us, which is what we always do with opposition, so we have a good grasp.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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