Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley reveals why Reeco Hackett-Fairchild deserved to start ahead of Ronan Curtis at MK Dons

Danny Cowley backed his call to drop Ronan Curtis and insisted: ‘I’m picking what I see’.

By Neil Allen
Monday, 13th September 2021, 4:55 am

Reeco Hackett-Fairchild was the surprise selection on Pompey’s left flank at MK Dons on Saturday.

Curtis had started all of the Blues’ opening six matches before heading off for international duty with the Republic of Ireland.

Upon his return, however, he has been dislodged by Hackett-Fairchild.

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This represents the breakthrough season for the ex-Bromley winger, who has featured eight times so far this term.

And Cowley is adamant the 23-year-old warranted his first-team spot ahead of Curtis for the trip to Stadium MK.

He told The News: ‘Reeco has done great, he’s done really, really well. He’s training really well and I think he’s had some good games.

‘He’s made an excellent start to the season and it shows, doesn’t it – he played in front of Ronan on Saturday.

Reeco Hackett-Fairchild was selected ahead of Ronan Curtis for Pompey's 1-0 defeat at MK Dons on Saturday. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages

‘At the end of June you wouldn't have said that would have been possible, so credit to him.

‘I’m just picking what I see. I picked a team to try to win the game and Reeco does an awful lot of work off the ball, sacrificial runs, penetration.

‘We picked the team we thought could win the game.

‘Ultimately, we didn’t and there’s a consequence when you have a good squad and competition for places, you will be criticised, and I accept that. That’s par for the course.’

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Hackett-Fairchild was on loan at Southend when Cowley arrived in March, thereby depriving the head coach of his services.

The left-footed winger linked up with Pompey again for pre-season and subsequently impressed.

He has featured in all eight matches during the current campaign, starting six of them.

It’s encouraging progress which convinced Cowley to start Hackett-Fairchild ahead of the returning Curtis at the Stadium MK on Saturday.

The Blues would slump to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of The Dons, with Hackett-Fairchild lasting 54 minutes before replaced by the Irishman.

There was also the disappointment of a golden first-half opportunity, when the former non-league man headed Kieron Freeman’s right-wing cross over the bar.

It was a glorious chance which should have been converted in a fixture which saw Pompey’s goalless league run stretched to 357 minutes.

Cowley added: ‘That was a really good move, a nice passage of play. It was a good chance.

‘I think we had two in the first half and created a lot more in the second. MK Dons created a lot in the first half as well, to be fair to them.’

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