Portsmouth boss pinpoints player who can spark play-off bid to life

George Byers has been backed to become the missing piece of Pompey’s attacking jigsaw.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 6:00 am

And Danny Cowley has stated his belief the attacking midfielder can spark the Blues’ play-off bid to life on the front foot.

Byers shone in his first start under the Pompey head coach against Bristol Rovers, and his first full outing since the EFL Trophy final defeat to Salford City last month.

Cowley changed his team’s formation to a 3-4-3 and went with the Swansea loanee in a inside right channel, with Ronan Curtis on the left behind John Marquis.

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Byers responded with an assist for the decisive goal and brought several moments of incisive passing quality to the table, as Pompey found some attacking threat once again after recent issues going forward.

Cowley acknowledged the 24-year-old’s role in rejuvenating the Blues on the front foot, and believes that can how to maintain that forward danger in the games ahead.

He said: ‘George gave us that little bit of je ne sais quoi. He gave us that little bit of something different.

‘The goal was a great goal.

Ronan Curtis celebrates scoring his Pompey winner against Bristol Rovers with his goal's architect - George Byers. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘Credit to Dan Ashby, our analyst, because he’s the one that saw when our keeper caught it, because they put a lot of balls into the box and numbers in the box, there is an opportunity to break.

‘We were able to break on them, Ronan did great and then George came up with that little bit of improvisation and quality when the team needed it most.

‘We hope he can (give a spark). We didn’t want to take him off.

‘It’s a bit like when you go to the gym and you lift to fail. If you go to lift again, guess what, you can’t.

‘So at 70 minutes I didn’t want to take him off, but I’ve got Tuesday in mind.

‘We may have to protect him that little bit, because he’s not had that run of games.

‘It’s hard for attacking players to go again on Tuesday when they empty the tank, but let’s be honest the others are getting on with it!’

Cowley also showered praise on skipper Tom Naylor, who he expected to miss the game as he battled a hamstring issue.

Naylor was a big doubt to feature in the build-up to the clash, but battled on - and the Pompey head coach felt that was a testament to his attitude in the position he finds himself in.

Cowley added: ‘He had a really tight hamstring and we didn’t think he’d play.

‘But he woke up on Saturday and he said he’d do whatever the team needs him to do.

‘You can’t ask for anymore than that, particularly when they are out of contract.

‘There would be so many players, who would be looking after themselves so that says everything about him. He’s a real warrior.’

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