Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley shares thinking on Marcus Harness' quality but identifies area that needs immediate improving
Excited Danny Cowley has total faith in Marcus Harness' ability to play multiple roles across the Pompey front line - including the No10 role which has proven problematic for the club in recent years.
But the Blues boss has challenged the forward to improve his consistency levels in order to take himself and the club to the next level.
The 25-year-old has been a mainstay in the head coach's team since his appointment last March, starting 19 of the 20 League One fixtures Cowley has taken charge of to date.
Almost all of those appearances have come on the right-wing, with the Republic of Ireland ace's technical ability, dynamism and speed deemed a huge asset.
Yet for the midweek visit of Plymouth, the former Burton man operated in a central attacking role behind a strike pairing of John Marquis and Ronan Curtis as Cowley opted for a system switch.
The change of approach helped Pompey avoid a fourth successive league defeat and provided enough creative spark to suggest that a 3-5-2 formation could be the way forward as the Blues looked more dangerous as an attacking force.
As for Harness, he looked more than comfortable in a role he's occupied sparingly throughout his playing days to date - and one he's likely to remain in for Saturday's trip to Charlton.
It didn't help him add to his goals and assists tally for the season which stands at one apiece for the season to date.
And with forwards judged on those figures, Cowley believes Championship-quality Harness needs to up his levels in those areas, along with his influence, to make the next step in his career.
Admitting that it's something both he and the player are working on, the Blues boss said: 'I think Marcus is a top player at this level and normally top players can play anywhere.
‘I think Marcus can play, 7, 10, 11, maybe even wing-back as well.
‘He's got Championship ability but you have to put it all together consistently if you want to be a Championship player - and that's the journey he's on.
‘We're working really hard with him to try to achieve that.
‘I like the thought of him being able to dribble, penetrate, drive and have two forwards in front of him - that excites me.
‘Watching him in training, the things he does, the way he moves, his technical ability…
‘But it's just about finding that level of consistency - and he's working hard at it.
‘He's working hard at his game and he's a top player.’
Cowley said he firmly believed Harness can kick on and provide the creativity the Blues have lacked in recent games prior to the Pilgrims draw.
The prospect of him operating in the hole behind the front men excites the head coach.
And he offered a quick insight into how the player could improve his influence.
‘We've got loads of faith in Marcus,' added Cowley.
‘He's a dribble penetrator, has that ability to drive and track defenders and if you have two in front of you, you should be able to find the next action.
‘He can play on the touchline and he can play inside - it's trying to help him keep finding ways of receiving the ball in more congested areas of the pitch.
‘He has that ability but sometimes he just works too hard to find his own space.
‘Sometimes it's only one step (that's needed), it doesn't always have to be a long run.
‘Sometimes it just needs him to be out of the defender's eye-line, take one step and peel off the defender, back foot, and he's got that ability to speed it up.
‘He has that in him.’