How Portsmouth player crisis can aid them in bid to beat Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland, Plymouth Argyle, Oxford United & Co to promotion

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Danny Cowley is hoping Pompey’s player crisis can work in his team’s favour as he welcomes the return of a refreshed Joe Morrell.

And the Blues boss has paid tribute to his players for navigating a testing period as his squad was hit by injury and illness.

The clash with Plymouth Argyle is the latest to be called off, with injuries and Covid in the Pilgrims squad meaning Pompey have now played their last game of 2021.

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The scenario is looking brighter for Cowley’s squad, however, after being decimated by players being sidelined by virus and Covd outbreaks, as well as seeing key men in the treatment room this term.

Morrell has been a significant absence, with the Wales international being out for nearly a month with the virus which swept through his squad.

He is now back, however, with Cowley focussing on the positives of a now extended unplanned break.

Cowley said: ‘Joe will be back available, which is really good for us and also the group.

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‘We were restricted in that central midfield area, we have done incredibly well to navigate through those games without Joe, without Louis and without Ryan Tunnicliffe.

Joe Morrell is back for Pompey are a month out.Joe Morrell is back for Pompey are a month out.
Joe Morrell is back for Pompey are a month out.

‘Having just two fit midfield players available was an incredible challenge and the fact we have been able to do that and navigate through and keep an unbeaten run going in the league is credit to everybody involved.

‘He has been able to train. I don’t want to go into each individual, we’ve had to personalise every player’s training programme through this period and that has proven to be a challenge in itself.

‘One of our key processes is about planning, the success we’ve been able to have in our career is through good planning, this has been really challenging because we haven’t always known what tomorrow is going to bring.

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‘You can imagine planning and preparing detail and work which needs to go into that, then to find out in the morning when the players arrive and obviously test before they’ve come into the training ground we have lost players and that has had huge ramifications to the training session.

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‘We’ve had to be really adaptable, really flexible, we’ve had to be pragmatic.

‘On the flip side of that, it has given everybody an opportunity to recharge physically and mentally in the middle of what has been a tough season.

‘We’ve had a lot of players we’ve had to overuse during this period with the injuries we’ve had, so it has given us that opportunity to freshen up.

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‘In life I look to find the positives, there are many negatives no doubt that other people will find, but for me it’s always to see the positives in the situations and circumstances.

‘And the overriding positive for me was a real opportunity to freshen them up physically and mentally.’

Cowley reported Pompey had 23 players in training on Monday, a far cry from how it’s been for many sessions recently.

The Blues boss is staying tight-lipped over who is and isn’t available – and which of his men tested positive for coronavirus after the recent outbreak at the club.

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Cowley added: ‘For us we are not going to speak about any individual. There is medical confidentiality and we have to try to respect that.

‘Some players may speak about their own personal circumstance, I don’t think I’d want anyone to speak about my medical circumstances, so I won’t do that about anyone else.’

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