Portsmouth banking on Leicester loanee's rejuvenation to persuade Brendan Rodgers not to pull plug on Fratton Park deal

Pompey are hoping George Hirst’s flurry of recent first-team outings has convinced an unhappy Leicester City to allow the striker to remain at Fratton Park.
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The News understands Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers has been unimpressed over the lack of game time handed to the loanee by Danny Cowley.

It took more than three months into Hirst’s season-long loan to be handed his first League One start by the Blues, arriving at Wycombe in November.

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Until that point, all 10 of his league outings had been from the bench, totalling just 142 minutes.

It raised huge concerns at Leicester over the value of the ex-England youth international’s ongoing presence with Pompey, particularly with the option of a January loan recall.

However, following last month’s man-of-the-match performance against Crystal Palace under-21s in the Papa John’s Trophy, Hirst has established himself as a first-team regular.

The forward has started seven of the Blues’ last eight matches in all competitions, a sustained run that Cowley hopes will have reassured Rodgers.

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Hirst’s sole absence during that period was against Harrogate Town in the FA Cup, when he was sidelined along with Joe Morrell through the sickness bug which preceded the coronavirus outbreak.

George Hirst has proven to be a revelation for Pompey since handed regular first-team starts last month. Picture: Stephen Flynn/ProSportsImagesGeorge Hirst has proven to be a revelation for Pompey since handed regular first-team starts last month. Picture: Stephen Flynn/ProSportsImages
George Hirst has proven to be a revelation for Pompey since handed regular first-team starts last month. Picture: Stephen Flynn/ProSportsImages

Indeed, such has been the high calibre of his displays, the 22-year-old has won around a Fratton faithful which doubted his effectiveness based on previous appearances as a substitute.

While Cowley is seeking to bolster his striking options in January, he is keen for Hirst to remain and see out his agreed season-loan stay – if Leicester will allow.

Instead, the Blues would favour losing John Marquis when the transfer window reopens in January, while Ellis Harrison continues to battle for his Fratton Park future.

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Gassan Ahadme’s time with Pompey also looks bleak, especially as they have the opportunity to cancel his underwhelming loan from Norwich halfway through.

In contrast, Hirst is presently Cowley’s undisputed first-choice striker, with his contributions helping the Blues to a nine-match unbeaten run in League One.

However, Cowley’s men haven’t played since December 11, with coronavirus forcing the postponement of the subsequent three fixtures.

The Blues are next scheduled to be in action on Wednesday, December 29, with a trip to Plymouth at Home Park.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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