Portsmouth transfer window Q&A: Neil Allen’s verdict on Blues’ striker search, Aston Villa’s Cameron Archer and the expectations on Danny Cowley this month

Pompey succumbed to their first league defeat since October on Saturday with their Fratton Park defeat against MK Dons once again highlighting an urgent need for striking reinforcements.

By Pepe Lacey
Monday, 17th January 2022, 2:51 pm

Here, Pepe Lacey is joined by Chief Sports Writer Neil Allen to discuss all the key talking points which that loss engineered, as well as Hayden Carter’s arrival post-match.

Q Hayden Carter represents Pompey's first arrival this month. But Saturday's 2-1 defeat against MK Dons seemed to quickly overshadow that, didn't it?

He was on the bench as a sub, not used, and we (the media) were focused on the actual game itself.

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And for that game, bearing in mind Pompey hadn’t conceded in five League One matches, it didn't make a lot of sense to throw him in after one days training on a Friday, so he was going to have to wait his time.

As far as the game went, it wasn’t defensive issues (which cost Pompey) – it was at the other end of the pitch, which we’ve seen a lot this season.

We all know the disappointing stats of Pompey’s goal record in League One this season.

It still remains that, outside the bottom three, only Shrewsbury have scored fewer.

Neil Allen has been giving his verdict on Pompey's transfer window business so far this month

Pompey haven’t got the goals, haven't got the quality with the final ball in the final third – and again we saw that on Saturday.

MK Dons scored completely against the run of play in their first attack and were 2-0 up at half-time.

Pompey did give it a real go in the second half, pulled one back through George Hirst, but they couldn’t quite find the equaliser.

I think fans went away a little bit heartened after that second-half performance but again it’s obvious – there are issues in attacking situations in terms of quality either putting the ball in the net or use of the ball.

Q Pompey's lack of cutting edge has been something Danny Cowley has bemoaned most of this season so far. So why didn't he prioritise it in the summer and why was it not his first port of call this month?

He looked in the summer but the Jayden Stockley deal fell through, while he tried all sorts of other moves.

When Hayden Carter came up, Cowley wasn't going to say to him: ‘Can you just wait a few weeks, I want a striker first’.

You've got to grab an opportunity to sign someone when you can.

You can’t say: ‘Let’s stall a deal until further down the line because you’re a defender and I want a striker’. It’s just what pops up.

Cowley knows, we all know, we need a striker – even John Marquis’ fans know another striker is needed.

Hopefully, he can bring in one this window because if he doesn’t resolve it this season and Pompey don’t end up in the play-offs, he’s got to sort it out in the summer because next year will have to be a promotion challenge.

Somewhere down the line he’s got to get in one, maybe two strikers, to make an impact.

Q Focus has turned to Aston Villa youngster Cameron Archer in recent days. Is he a realistic target for Pompey this month?

The word ‘realistic’ is key here because I don’t think he can.

He’s been on Villa’s bench for the Past three games, two of which have been in the Premier League.

he hasn’t come off the bench, but Villa only have three strikers at the moment – Watkins, Ings and Archer.

I can’t see them letting him out.

And if they did, for me, Pompey would be well down the list. There will be a lot of clubs interested in him.

Does Danny Cowley think he’ll get him? I’m not so sure and I’m not holding my breath on that one.

He is one of a number of players, you don’t pick one player to get in the transfer window.

Just touching on something I wrote from last week about how the coaching team, the management team have been out scouting other players and some people have gone: ‘Why are they scouting players they should sign?’

You need to keep scouting players, you need to keep scouting opposition.

You need to keep scouting players for the future, for the summer.

You don’t just stop scouting because it’s a transfer window and say that’s it, this is our list, we aren’t budging. You have to keep thinking and that’s all that they’re doing, just trying to be constructive.

It’s not all going to be about Archer, there are other players lined up, no doubt.

Q Danny Cowley has done well to get Ellis Harrison, Paul Downing and Gassan Ahadme out, while there's also Miguel Azeez's departure, too. But do you think that will be it in terms of departures this month?

Miguel Azeez has gone, he’s gone, while there have been a few other departures in recent weeks.

I know people want new signings but these four that have gone, everyone agreed that they should go because their impact was minimal.

Azeez was very disappointing. You could argue that he was a youngster and it was his first time at this level, but he was disappointing.

Gassan had a wonderful pre-season but didn’t do it in the season.

Paul Downing and Ellis Harrison had been at the club two-and-a-half years, it didn’t work out for them and Pompey thankfully got rid of them.

It benefits Pompey and it benefits all four players that they’ve moved on.

There’s no point moaning about Pompey letting players go, they just weren’t good enough for the club.

We wish them all the best but it hasn’t worked out at Pompey for the four of them.

Clearly Pompey need to replace them with a striker. They’ve already got a defender in, and for me, they’re desperate for a natural left wing-back.

Whether that’s resolved in this window or the next we’ll wait and see.

There’s still places to fill and players to bring in.

They’re alright in the centre of midfield with a lot of players coming back from injury, so there’s a lot of transfers to be made this window and Cowley knows that he’s just trying to get the right players in.

Q Is Danny Cowley under pressure to get his recruitment right this January or does he have the safety net of not having much money to spend?

He will be under pressure to get some quality recruits, especially upfront because if they don't strengthen up front then they're relying on Hirst and Marquis for the rest of the season.

They desperately need a player up front and the season could be in danger of petering out completely.

Obviously, Pompey can still get to the play-offs but I think it will be a tough ask really unless they bring the right players in.

Cowley needs to bring the players, but they’re also looking at next summer, when there will be free agents available that they’ve identified.

John Marquis will go and he’s the biggest earner - think of how much room that’ll create in the budget, and there’s others as well.

Cowley will be looking at next summer for the vast majority of his recruitment, but in the meantime he still needs to sign players here and now because there’s a season going on and Pompey still have an outside chance of reaching the play-offs.

There has to be some quality introduced in this transfer window but I think we’ll have to accept it might be loanees because the proper signings will be made in the summer.

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