Portsmouth boss' verdict on Manchester City keeper's bid for No1 spot

Danny Cowley saluted Gavin Bazunu’s opening audition as he staked his claim to be Pompey’s No1.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 4:55 am

Bazunu made his long-awaited maiden Blues appearance in Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat to Chelsea’s under-23 side at their Cobham training ground.

The 19-year-old caught the eye with some rapid movement and impressive distribution before being replaced by triallist Dan Gyollai, who shipped two late goals.

The Republic of Ireland international’s excellent work with the ball at feet and how that would fit in with Cowley’s game idea, was a huge part of why Pompey pursued a loan agreement with Manchester City.

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Cowley saw plenty of other areas to be pleased with in Bazunu’s game, as he vies with Alex Bass to be first choice as his new side go to Fleetwood Town on the opening day of the League One season next week.

He said: ‘I thought Gavin was excellent.

‘His command, presence and speed around the box and his talking is excellent.

Gavin Bazunu

‘He’s only 19 but incredibly tactically intelligent.

‘He has a real calming influence on what’s in front of him, and I thought his distribution was exceptional.

‘First and foremost he’s there to keep the ball out of the goal.

‘But certainly his distribution gives us a real weapon and tactical flexibility to the way we want to play.’

Bazunu wasn’t the only player to catch the eye at Chelsea, in a game played in very different circumstances to those anticipated by Cowley.

The Pompey squad was topped up with triallists with plans to include academy players halted by their need to isolate after a positive coronavirus case, which also saw last night’s scheduled clash with Bognor called off.

That didn’t stop the likes of Michael Jacobs catching the eye ahead of the new campaign.

Cowley added: ‘I thought there was some really good performances on Tuesday and it was a really good exercise for us.

‘When we planned the game it was supposed to be a first-team fixture with some younger academy players, who would’ve filled up the bench and maybe come out at the end.

‘Then in an ideal world they would have played against Bognor.

‘That wasn’t to be because they’re self-isolating, but there was some good performances.’

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