Portsmouth boss fires message to Ryley Towler over playing time after testing period for Bristol City signing following flying Fratton start

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The Pompey boss has spoken about a tough season for the promising defender after Regan Poole was ruled out for the rest of the campaign.

Ryley Towler has been told to be ready for his chance after enduring a difficult first full Pompey campaign. And Blues boss John Mousinho has lauded the defender’s leadership skills, as he weighs up how to fill the void created by Regan Poole’s season-ending injury.

Towler has battled through a testing period, after an exciting start to his life at Fratton Park following his arrival from Bristol City in January.

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But with Poole’s campaign now at an end Mousinho has to decide who now plays, with Towler and Sean Raggett the obvious options.

Mousinho said: ‘Ryley has been incredibly unlucky, but understands the situation.

‘I can understand how difficult it is for him, having had such a strong back end to last season. The expectations were really high for him coming into this one.

‘He was very unlucky to lose his place in the team after the opening day, but he’s just been a victim of the fact the two players coming in, particularly the one on his side in Conor Shaughnessy, has been immovable.

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‘It’s a tough one for him, but part of his learning process, but Ryley is still just 21 and has a huge amount of time ahead of him.

‘He has another three years at least left at this football club, so there’s no panic. There’s no rush, we’ve got plenty of time to improve and develop where Ryley is.

‘The opportunities will come.

‘Terry Devlin hadn’t started a single league game building up to Reading - he started, he scored and was probably our best player. That was because Terry realised his chance could be around the corner.

‘He was out of the squad against Cambridge and started against Reading. That’s what we need from all of our players.

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‘We had a couple of suspensions and then had two lads made their first league starts.

‘We need everyone fit, firing and ready to go - because you don’t know what is coming.’

Towler has been limited to just one league start this term amid a total six appearances, but Mousinho was bowled over by his approach as he took the captain’s armband when Pompey were down to 10 men at Leyton Orient in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy success last week.

He added: ‘After the red card against Orient, the armband went to Ryley - but it wasn’t through me. I would’ve made that decision myself, Sean was only going to play a half anyway and Ryley was going to be the captain in the second half.

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‘He didn’t know that and the lads didn’t know that - but the lads gave him the armband.

‘He really grew through the game. There were a couple of instances where we went through tackles, headers and second balls.

‘Ryley led that line brilliantly as a 21-year-old. He had Zak (Swanson), who’s never played centre-half before playing centre-back and Harry Jewitt-White at right-back. Then there was Denver Hume who’d not played a minute in eight months at left-back.

‘So for Ryley to take the bull by the horns and mark Joe Pigott and lead the side to the win was brilliant.’

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