'Like a new signing' - but Danny Cowley admits little space remaining for more Portsmouth strikers

Danny Cowley has revealed his squad has space for one more striking recruit.

Thursday, 15th July 2021, 4:30 pm

That is in addition to the return of ‘new signing’ Ellis Harrison from long-term injury.

Harrison and John Marquis are presently the only contracted forwards at Fratton Park following the close season exits of Jordy Hiwula and Alfie Stanley.

Cowley would love four strikers at his disposal – yet realistically sees the bar set at three.

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Unless either of Harrison or Marquis depart, it leaves him with one spot to fill in a campaign in which the Blues are hoping to stage another promotion challenge.

In the meantime, he has this week welcomed Harrison back to training after sidelined since March following a knee operation.

Cowley told The News: ‘You would like four forwards. With your nines and 10s, you’d like to have a bit of versatility if you could.

‘But, realistically, with where we are in terms of the finance, I think the maximum we will have is three.

Ellis Harrison has given Danny Cowley a striker boost following his return from injury - but the Blues' head coach wants another forward. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

‘We really missed Ellis at the back end of last season. We would definitely have got into the play-offs if he had been available to us.

‘We needed a target man or someone to play into and up to – and I think it would have definitely helped us in certain games.

‘I think ‘target man’ is kind of a negative connotation, I always think they are unselfish link men, just players you can play into and up to.

‘Ellis has great character and great personality, he brings a real energy to the group off the pitch. We’ve certainly missed him.

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‘We’ll get through the week of full training and then, off the back of that, we’ll try to get him some minutes from there.

‘For us, it definitely feels like a new signing. Whenever I’ve played against Ellis, he has always occupied and been a real handful for defenders, so we’re looking forward to having him back.’

It has been more than four months since Harrison last featured for Pompey.

He was ruled out with a knee injury days before Cowley’s March arrival, meaning the Blues boss has yet to see him in match action for the club.

Meanwhile, Fleetwood and especially Oxford United have shown interest in the 27-year-old during the summer transfer window.

Cowley added: ‘There was some interest from Oxford at the beginning of the close season.

‘But we are not encouraging any interest, there are not many number 9s that can do what Ellis can – and are actually available to us.

‘I think this is a big season for him, he’s also got a year left on his contract.

‘The last two years probably haven’t gone as well as Ellis would have liked and he’s another with a real point to prove.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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