'I won't throw a young player under the bus' - Danny Cowley on why Alfie Stanley still awaits Portsmouth league debut

Danny Cowley has vowed to keep the leash on talented Alfie Stanley – for the sake of the youngster’s fledgling career.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 6:00 am
Alfie Stanley is still awaiting his Football League debut with Pompey, despite their striking issues. Picture: Dennis Goodwin/ProSportsImages

In Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat at Swindon, the teenager was an unused substitute for a fourth-successive fixture as he patiently awaits his Football League debut.

Instead, leading scorer John Marquis has been Cowley’s preferred striker when available.

Marquis’ ongoing form has attracted much criticism, while the £1m recruit from Doncaster has netted just five times in his last 27 outings.

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Nonetheless, Cowley has so far resisted utilising Stanley – even from the bench.

Pompey’s head coach told The News: ‘Alfie’s a lovely kid, I love him, he has a great attitude, great energy, but he’s not ready. He’s just not ready, nowhere near ready.

‘We hope one day that he will be, but he’s got about four or five stepping stones and, just because I desperately want a goal, I won’t throw a young player under the bus.

‘I can’t do that. I’ve got a duty of care for them to make sure I set them up to be successful. That’s my responsibility.

‘I won’t put someone in that position, especially a young player. Young players always have fragile confidence because they are still developing their competence,

‘If they are not ready to achieve success then they are going to fail – and that is going to really affect their confidence and progress moving forward.

‘It can affect them. It’s our job to keep developing them and improving them and each time making the right decisions in terms of timing when they are ready for the next step.’

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Stanley has represented Pompey twice in the Papa John’s Trophy this season.

He has also had brief spells at non-league clubs Bognor and Gosport, yet loan opportunities have invariably been hampered by coronavirus-enforced lockdowns.

Potentially, this would involve Stanley remaining at Fratton Park, yet loaned out for next season to aid his development.

In the meantime, he continues to be part of the first-team squad during training sessions and match-days.

Yet still the Pompey fan awaits that maiden League One outing.

Cowley added: ‘This is what we have to do, that’s our responsibility and is part of our job.

‘Just because I am desperately trying to get back into a game, I’m not just going to throw a young player in League One football who isn’t ready.

‘It wouldn’t be the right thing to do.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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