Portsmouth boss' striker belief as he reveals thinking in quest to end goal drought against Cambridge United
Danny Cowley believes he’s now starting to see the best of Ellis Harrison.
And the Pompey boss is certain the striker can offer the attributes he is demanding from his number nine.
Cowley must decide on whether to unleash Harrison on Cambridge United tomorrow, continue with John Marquis or even pair the two up, as the Blues aim to end their shot-shy spell in front of goal.
Pompey are looking to end a run of 358 minutes without a league goal, and avoid equalling their worst league goal drought of the 21st century at Fratton Park.
Harrison staked his claim with a hat-trick in the 5-3 Papa John’s Trophy defeat against AFC Wimbledon, but was rested as Pompey drew a blank in the 1-0 defeat at MK Dons.
Now eyes turn to Pompey’s return to Fratton Park and whether it’s Harrison who gets the nod to find his side’s cutting edge.
Cowley said: ‘Ellis played on Tuesday and last Saturday came too soon for him.
‘I couldn’t say that last week, because I didn’t want to give my team away.
‘I think the Wimbledon game was a really good stepping stone for Ellis.
‘I still think he has work to do, because we want Ellis fit, firing and performing like that consistently.
‘If he can, he can not only get into the team but make it significantly better. That has to be his ambition.
‘He has a physicality and ability to be a real handful for defenders.
‘He’s quite unselfish in a lot of his behaviours and his actions, and he can definitely bring other players into the game.
‘I think when he’s playing at his best he can stretch the pitch as well and give you that athleticism to run in behind, but also the physicality, back-to-goal stuff and unselfish link play.
‘That’s what we like and want in our number nine.
‘Ellis can be whatever he wants to be.
‘I feel we’ve only just got him to this place, and we’ve been here since March.
‘It’s no fault of anyone, he had an operation within the first 10 days of us being in the building.
‘It’s been a slow process, but we’re now getting close to where we’d like him to be.’
It’s one goal in seven appearances for Marquis so far this season, as he searches for the potency required to get Pompey’s season motoring.
Cowley continues to support his striker, though, and believes it’s not just about finishing but also providing the chances for the £1m signing.
He said: ‘John has worked incredibly hard for the team.
‘He’s our first defender and I’ve always believed that with our number nines.
‘He’s done a really good job for us and allowed us to defend our half, and as a result haven’t really needed to worry too much about defending our box or goal.
‘I think he’ll be the first to admit he’d want to carry more goal threat than he has.
‘But you can’t fault John’s work ethic and professionalism, along with his humility to work and get better. You can see that in abundance.
‘He works so hard at his game, movement and finishing.
‘We have to work equally hard to create chances for him.
‘We’ve gone box to box very well, if you look at that it’s been very good.
‘It’s a combination of the chance creation and final action in equal measure. They are the two areas we can improve on.’
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