Portsmouth boss responds to conspiracy theories over ex-Doncaster Rovers and Millwall striker's injury absence

Danny Cowley has emphatically dismissed the leftfield rumours over John Marquis’ Pompey absence.

Saturday, 20th November 2021, 4:55 am

The Blues boss has laughed off the notion the striker’s injury issue is a cover story after his recent spell out of contention.

Marquis has missed the past two games, although Cowley has declined to go into detail on the reasons for that.

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Some supporters have searched for alternative explanations, however, suggesting everything from a fallout between player and manager, to Marquis being taken out of the firing line after struggling for form in front of goal.

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Cowley highlighted he’s not in a position to ignore fit senior players for selection at present, after naming academy players as subs at Wycombe last weekend.

He said: ‘If John was fit, bearing in mind we had three academy boys on the bench on Saturday, I think he would’ve been in the 18, for sure!

There's been rumours circulating over John Marquis' absence.

‘John has been our go-to forward for the first part of the season anyway.

‘I don’t know where that one has come from (the rumour of Marquis being left out to protect him after a drop in form), but there’s definitely no truth in it.

‘We’re not in a position where we can be that protective over our players.

‘I promise you now if John was fit he’d be playing - he’d certainly be in the squad.’

George Hirst has added another dimension to Pompey’s attacking play in Marquis’ recent absence, bagging a goal, offering a physical presence and showing some decent hold-up and link play.

Marquis has been the preferred option for much of the season, however, and, despite struggling for a regular supply of goals, Cowley thinks his input shouldn’t be underestimated.

He added: ‘I think John has worked really hard for the team.

‘He’s been selfless in his efforts.

‘His pressing against the ball is an outstanding quality.

‘It allows us to play with a real high energy at the top end of the pitch, get many turnovers and defend early - which is what we like to do.

‘We’re always working with John with his hold-up and link play.

‘But we also know John carries goal threat - he has done his whole career.’

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