The Pompey boss has told how he’d love to bring the in-form loanee to Fratton Park for good, as his form goes from strength to strength.
Cowley explained how he thought he’d never get the chance to bring in the Championship defender, with both Sunderland and Ipswich vying for his services last summer.
But the deadline-day opportunity to do a deal was deemed too good to ignore, even if the head coach acknowledged it would be hard to make a temporary deal permanent at present.
Cowley said: ‘We didn’t anticipate Mahlon would become available to us.
‘It wasn’t one we could predict, he became available right at the end of the window. It was too good an opportunity to turn down.
‘I thought he was going to Ipswich and there was even Sunderland, but he wanted to stay down south. He became available and it was a great deal for us.
‘It would be tough (to sign Romeo permanently), but we’d love to have him. It’s been a good loan for both of us.’
Many fans questioned the wisdom of Cowley using up the last of his budget to bring in Romeo, with Kieron Freeman also arriving this summer.
Those voices have been quelled, however, by what they’ve seen from the 26-year-old since he made the move down the A3 from the capital.
Cowley added: ‘He’s been a machine, really good.
‘He was short of games when he first arrived, but he soon got fitter, more athletic and powerful.
‘We’re seeing, for me, one of the best right-backs in the Championship.
‘He defends and attacks. Some of the modern-day full-backs just want to attack, but Mahlon defends and stops crosses.
‘Statistically, he’s got an incredible record of stopping crosses down his side of the pitch.
‘Also offensively he gives us real attacking threat.’
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