New head coach Danny Cowley tackles filling void of 'irreplaceable' Portsmouth player

Pompey have been tasked with finding a way to adapt without ‘irreplaceable’ Ronan Curtis.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 4:00 pm

But new Blues head coach, Danny Cowley believes he has enough options at his disposal to cover for the winger’s absence at Shrewsbury.

Cowley has to weigh up the best way to fill the gap vacated by Curtis, who is away on Republic of Ireland international duty.

The new man at the helm went with a 4-4-1-1 in his maiden win against Ipswich last weekend, before switching to a back three against Paul Cook’s side.

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Michael Jacobs seems the best like-for-like replacement although Marcus Harness or Ryan Williams could be utilised as a left winger, while Harvey White operated there effectively against Oxford United last week.

An alternative would be to go with a three-man central midfield, opening the door for the likes of George Byers and Ben Close to come into the starting XI.

Cowley said: ‘Players like Ronan are irreplaceable to you, because they are fantastic players - but we have find ways to adapt.

‘What we are really lucky with in this squad is there are other really good players and really good options.

Ronan Curtis

‘You look at players like Harvey White, who is someone we know from his time at Tottenham.

‘You look at George Byers who we know well from his time at Swansea and Michael Jacobs.

‘We all saw Marcus Harness last week and we all want to set Marcus off to have success, because there’s no doubt he’s got some real top-end quality.

‘We saw Ben Close influence and know how dynamic Andy Cannon can be for the group.

‘We’ve got some players who are unavailable, but I always like be positive about what I have got rather than what I haven’t.’

Jacobs’ availability is a boost, although the 29-year-old was restricted to 18 minutes off the bench after more hamstring problems against Salford City in the EFL Trophy final.

The debate for Cowley will be how much long he can use the former Wigan man for, after a season hampered by injury problems.

Cowley added: ‘Last week Michael felt his back which referred to his hamstrings at Wembley.

‘He had some issues last week, but he’s come through those now.

‘All players have different profiles. There’s some things they can do and some they can’t.

‘Our aim is to try to set them up for success and focus on what they can do.

‘We work hard to set them up in the areas of the pitch they like to be successful in and try to avoid what they can’t do - I guess that’s the art of coaching.’

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