Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley reveals why Shaun Williams was replaced by Connor Ogilvie on team sheet ahead of win at Fleetwood

Danny Cowley has admitted the back injury that forced Shaun Williams to miss yesterday’s season-opener against Fleetwood is a ‘low-level’ one.

Sunday, 8th August 2021, 4:55 am

The former Millwall midfielder was initially named in the Pompey starting line-up for the game at Highbury Stadium and poised to make his league debut for his new side.

However, he was withdrawn from the team shortly before kick-off, after taking part in the pre-match warm-up, and replaced by fellow new-boy Connor Ogilvie.

According to Cowley, Williams picked up the injury while putting his son to bed during the week.

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The set-back, though, exposed the lack of depth the Blues boss currently has at his disposal in the middle of the park.

At present, the 34-year-old Irishman and Ryan Tunnicliffe are the only recognised central midfielders at Pompey’s disposal, with defender Ogilvie having never played the role until today.

That is expected to change in the next 24-48 hours as the Blues close in on two midfield reinforcements – one of which will be Louis Thompson on a pay-as-you play deal.

In the meantime, though, Cowley admitted Williams’ injury was not a major concern at this moment.

Shaun Williams, left, warms up ahead of the Fleetwood game with John Marquis and George Hirst. Picture: Paul Thompson/ProSportsImages

Speaking to BBC Solent, the Pompey head coach said: ‘It’s low level – his back spasmed and of course all the muscles around it have spasmed.

‘There’s just a risk then of soft tissue injures – hamstring and abductors and quadriceps just multiplying.

‘He tried to warm up and we were in a difficult position this morning because he was really stiff.

‘He can’t really do a fitness test and if he had passed one (on Saturday morning) his calves would have stiffened up on the back of it.

‘We’re in a bit of a difficult position where we only have two central midfielders so we pretty much had to hit the gamble button.

‘We primed Connor Ogilvie and Connor has never played central midfielder in his senior career – he has now.

‘I just said to him, just think of a mixture of (N'Golo) Kanté and (Andrea) Pirlo and be a ginger version of that and I thought he was. I thought he was just great.’

Pompey’s next game is against Millwall in the first round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.