'One of League One's better central midfielders' - Sorry Jimmy, but Portsmouth fans have a different view on Burton recruit Bryn Morris

It was quite a statement from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink while trumpeting his new signing’s talents.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 4:00 pm
Bryn Morris made 28 appearances and scored once during his time at Pompey. Now he has joined Burton. Picture: Joe Pepler

Certainly difficult to gauge whether the Burton manager was artificially raising Bryn Morris’ reputation – or genuinely believes it.

Regardless, the Fratton faithful will strongly disagree with such an assessment.

‘Bryn’s grown significantly since that first loan with us,’ the Brewers’ boss told their official club website.

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‘He’s established himself in the league as one of the better central midfielders and we are happy to be able to bring him back to the club, this time on a permanent basis.’

Morris has found a new club since his Pompey release, one which keeps him in League One to raise the prospect of facing them in action next term.

Of all the players culled by Danny Cowley, the departure of the 25-year-old would have been met with universal agreement by the Blues’ fanbase.

So Hasselbaink’s assertion that Burton have captured one of League One’s ‘better central midfielders’ is rather intriguing.

Pompey followers will testify they never witnessed such a player, while his loan spell with Northampton during the second half of the campaign resulted in relegation.

Undoubtedly Morris will rue accepting a January 2019 switch to the Blues from Shrewsbury for an undisclosed fee. The sentiment will be shared by the supporters.

In fairness, the former England youth international had been in excellent loan form for Wycombe, even netting at Fratton Park against his future employers in September 2018.

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By all accounts, Gareth Ainsworth was devastated to lose the midfielder, who was recalled to parent club Shrewsbury ahead of his sale to the table-topping Blues.

At the time, Kenny Jackett was on the hunt for players capable of maintaining Pompey’s three month-long domination of top spot, while nudging them over the Championship finish line.

Arriving along with Andy Cannon, Morris made eight appearances and scored once as the league leaders eventually finished fourth.

Significantly, there were also the first signs of the injury problems which would devastate the former Middlesbrough man’s time at Fratton Park.

Robbed of the chance to make an instant impact with supporters, the likeable ex-England under-19 skipper spent the remainder of his Pompey days playing catch up – yet it was too late.

In 2019-20 there was a groin problem, then an adductor/hip issue, then another groin complaint, followed by an abdomen operation in Munich, later explained as double hernia trouble. Morris endured a torrid time.

Jackett surprisingly threw him into his play-off side for the semi-final against Oxford United, representing a first competitive start in 14 months, controversially replacing skipper Tom Naylor.

That curious team selection became the natural target when the Blues were eliminated by a penalty shoot-out, yet Morris remained in the starting XI at the start of the following season.

Eventually dislodged by Cannon in October 2020, he stayed in touching distance of the first-team, yet clearly his Blues career was over.

Morris’ 28th – and final – Pompey outing was the 5-1 loss at Peterborough in the Papa John’s Trophy in January.

Just over a week later he joined Northampton on loan the remainder of the season, effectively taking over his Fratton Park contract until its summer expiry.

Now Morris is back at the club where he initially spent a month in November 2014, a period which earned plenty of admirers.

One of which was Hasselbaink, who now proclaims the return of ‘one of the better central midfielders’ in League One.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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