Portsmouth boss reveals why no striker arrived before transfer's window close and how move for Millwall man developed amid Ipswich Town interest

Danny Cowley has revealed the sequence of events which led to Pompey not signing a striker before the close of the transfer window.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 4:30 pm
Updated Friday, 17th September 2021, 4:40 pm

And the Blues boss has told how the deadline-day of availability of Mahlon Romeo was too good to turn down, as he landed a defender who was attracting ‘seven-figure’ bids last year.

The window came to a slightly anti-climatic close two weeks ago, as the head coach failed to get a deal for a striker over the line.

Miguel Azeez came in on loan from Arsenal, with Romeo landed from Millwall on loan just before the 11pm deadline.

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Ellis Harrison attracted late interest from Plymouth Argyle, with the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Fleetwood and Oxford United also linked with the striker.

No move could be sealed in time for Pompey to find a suitable replacement, however, and with no striker available of the calibre Cowley was looking for the decision was made to keep what was already available to him.

The 42-year-old explained with a sizeable amount of his wage budget tied up in Harrison and John Marquis, he felt his options were limited.

Mahlon Romeo joined from Millwall on deadline day

Cowley said: ‘There wasn’t one (striker) there for the finance we had available, no.

‘You have to be fair to the club and owners - they’ve invested heavily on two forwards. Heavily.

‘In terms of the finances we had, it was more about the money already allocated to that (striker’s) position. That’s the reality.

‘We’d only have been able to bring a number nine in if we moved one out, which we couldn’t do.

Pompey new-boy Mahlon Romeo Picture: Jacques Feeney/Getty Images

‘That’s where it was, so now it’s up to all of us to get things right.

‘It’s up to us and the players as a collective, because we know we have good players at this club.

‘The number nine is a tough position and unique position, that’s why they earn the big bucks.

‘It’s the toughest position and we still have good competition in that area - and they are fighting for that spot.’

What did become available to Cowley on deadline day was a right-sided defender with real pedigree in Romeo.

Pompey’s interest in the Antigua and Barbuda international preceded that date, but the fear was Romeo was on his way to Ipswich who were looking for a right-back.

The move came alive again before the window’s close to land a player Cowley believes will give him the flexibility to go to a back three, with Kieron Freeman potentially being able to play as one of his central trio.

Pompey needed to commit some decent wages to cover the deal, but the boss felt there was still decent value there.

He added: ‘Mahlon became available on the last day of the word at a lower cost than what we anticipated.

‘It was one we didn’t anticipate doing at that stage, but he became available.

‘They (Freeman and Romeo) give different qualities and can actually play in the same team in different positions.

‘Kieron gives us real technical quality and Mahlon gives us that dynamism and athleticism.

‘He’s just been short of a rhythm of games, but with a run we knew what he was capable of.

‘It was only last summer a Championship club were offering seven figures for Mahlon.

‘So he’s a good acquisition and we anticipate him making the team better. It was too good an opportunity to ignore.’

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