Okay he's not a striker, yet ex-Cardiff and Bristol City man offers crucial missing midfield ingredient after Portsmouth arrival

The striker hunt continues, of course it does, yet there isn’t just one hole required plugging at Pompey.

Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 12:00 pm

Danny Cowley isn’t merely focusing on filling a single position, others crucially require attention, among them goalkeeper, right-back, wingers and, yes, up front.

Then there’s the midfield.

The Blues’ central midfield drove them to 10th in League One last season – clearly upgrading was essential.

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Coupled with the inevitable departure of Shaun Williams, numbers were also down for a club needing to sustain a promotion challenge in the forthcoming season.

Joe Morrell, Louis Thompson, Ryan Tunnicliffe and an inexperienced Jay Mingi unquestionably possess their strengths, yet the department still required bolstering.

Not a squad filler, not a back-up, not a frustrating presence on the treatment table – in Championship football he has amassed 267 appearances in seven years.

Marlon Pack offers a fresh option to Danny Cowley's midfielder. Picture: Alex Burstow/Getty Images

Similarly, this is no journeyman or fading force seeking one last pay day. He’s Pompey.

How the 31-year-old now fits into Cowley’s side is intriguing, yet represents a style of midfielder previously missing from his options.

Pack is a mobile, holding player who prefers to sit deep and dictate play with an excellent range of passing, while offering a shield in front of the defence.

Marlon Pack has become Pompey's first signing of the summer. Picture: Portsmouth FC

Comparisons to predecessors aren’t helpful, nonetheless will no doubt be tossed around before seeing him in action.

After all, this time last year, some were championing Williams as the ‘next Michael Doyle’ purely on the basis of being a midfielder who was Irish.

Pack is his own man and we shall judge him on his merits when in Pompey’s team, yet his ability to sit is something Cowley has long desired.

The Blues’ most-effective central-midfield partnership last season was Morrell and Thompson, the driving force behind fine form from February onwards, with three defeats in the final 18 fixtures.

Yet Pompey’s head coach has frequently acknowledged he’s had to convert Thompson into a holding role he’s unfamiliar with.

The former Norwich man is naturally a more dynamic, box-to-box player – as is Tunnicliffe – asked to adapt for the team’s system, thereby restricting his full capabilities.

Instead Cowley has been searching for a better fit, either in a one or as part of a two, which is where Pack comes into his own.

This is likely to be the only central midfield recruit of the summer, the house full signs have now been hung up in that area of the squad.

Other lines of enquiry remain active, with a wish list containing strikers, a goalkeeper, a right-back and wingers.

But Pack offers an excellent start to what needs to be a significant summer recruitment drive.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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