And he will have been pleased with what he saw, with his troops picking up a 2-2 draw against an Eagles side brimming with Premier League quality.
Players looked leggy and off the pace in recent defeats to MK Dons and Sunderland – loses which brought their 10-game unbeaten run to an abrupt end.
But the Pompey boss used the time in between that Black Cats loss and this Monday’s game against Charlton to add some quality to their training programme.
And what better way than going head-to-head with top-flight opposition.
Cowley said: ‘On Thursday we had a football conditioning day, so some of the boys who have been playing regularly stayed and trained here and had a session full of intensity with lots of action per minute. They were really sharpening their tools.
‘Meanwhile, the rest of the group went to Crystal Palace and we had a game there.
‘It was a really tough game and they had a really strong team out – including 11 players who had all played Premier League football this year – so it was the toughest of games.
‘It was a really good day for the whole group whether they trained or played. They really benefited from the experience.’
Included in the Palace team for the 75-minute game were Christian Benteke, Luka Milivojević, Nathaniel Clyne, Jack Butland, and Eberechi Eze.
The Blues took the lead through Reeco Hackett, before conceding twice.
However, Ronan Curtis restored parity to make it 2-2 – a scoreline which failed to change despite a flurry of substitutes on the hour mark.
Cowley added: ‘It was a 75-minute game where we had nine senior players playing the first 60 minutes, then we had a number of young players who came on in the last 15 and played against Premier League players, which is just the best experience for them.
‘There’s nothing better for their education than for them to play against top players and seeing how good you’ve got to be to play at that level.
‘It was just a brilliant experience for the young players.
‘After 60 minutes it was 2-2, which was good for us.
‘We went 1-0 up in two minutes as Reeco scored a really good goal.
Then we went 2-1 behind, before Ronan equalised.
‘It was a really good experience with some good physical returns.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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