Picture clear over January exit for Bristol City signing on fringes after flying Portsmouth start

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The Pompey boss has tackled the subject of a temporary exit for the former AFC Wimbledon loanee after limited playing time this season.

Ryley Towler will not be allowed to leave on loan in January as he searches for game time.

Pompey boss John Mousino has made it clear the defender’s needed as part of his side’s Championship charge this season.

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Towler has found his playing time limited this term, after a flying start to his Fratton career following his arrival from Bristol City in January. That has owed much to the emergence of Conor Shaughnessy as one of the Blues’ outstanding performers amid their table-topping opening.

The 21-year-old has been restricted to 74 minutes of league action and five cup starts, which Mousinho acknowledges isn’t ideal - but Towler is still seen as an important part of Pompey’s promotion push.

He said: ‘Ryley’s been really unlucky in terms of game time. If we could play him more, we would play him more. He’s just had Conor Shaughnessy ahead of him in the pecking order at the moment.

‘In terms of January, no Ryley will not be going out on loan. At the moment he’s our third choice centre-half and he’s competing really well in that sphere.

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‘Yes, it would be nice to get him more game time because he’s being dropped in and out of things here and there - in tough games as well, but it’s important for us to have Ryley around - and he’s part of our squad.’

Hopes were high for Towler going into this season after 20 appearances last term, which showcased both his defensive strength, quality on the ball and threat in the opponent’s box. Despite not being able to maintain that appearance rate, Mousinho feels that’s doesn’t reflect badly on the popular figure.

He added: ‘There were big expectations off the back of Ryley starting 15 games in a row, and maybe playing 20 games at the back end of last season and doing really well. We did have big expectations going into the season - he’s not fallen short of those, just others have exceeded theirs.

‘When every games is a big as it is - and feels as big as it is, it’s difficult to make too many changes to the back four - especially when they’ve been performing well and keeping clean sheets. Ryley’s definitely been a victim of that.’

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