Portsmouth's Haji Mnoga wants regular first-team football - and is open-minded about where he achieves it

Haji Mnoga is targeting regular first-team football to boost his development.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 7:23 am
Haji Mnoga challenges Bristol City's Saikou Janneh in Tuesday's friendly. Picture: Rogan/JMP

And he’s open to leaving Fratton Park on loan in order to achieve it.

That’s music to Mnoga’s ears, having played just 14 senior games, despite being around the Blues first-team for three seasons.

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The reticence of the previous Pompey management to let him out on loan saw a switch to Weymouth scuppered last term.

Now aged 19, Mnoga is desperate to sample regular match action – anywhere.

He told The News: ‘I would have liked more games last year, but, essentially being the start of my career, it’s a decent breakthrough season.

‘The hard part of last season was there weren’t any under-23 matches because of Covid, so if I wasn’t playing in the first-team then I couldn’t play. I was frustrating at times, but everyone was going through it.

‘Weymouth wanted me on loan, but I was basically told I was too close to the first-team to go. Apparently I was competing for the right-back spot, so stayed.

‘At the end of last season, the gaffer (Cowley) told me he wanted to find me 35 games, which is positive.

‘I want that to be at Pompey, it’s my home town, the team I play for, I want to go out there and represent them.

‘If it happens to be out on loan then so be it. I just have to go into it with the mindset that it’s still very good for me, it’s the experience I need. It doesn’t necessarily write off my chances of ever playing for Pompey.

‘If you are playing somewhere you are playing consistently – and begin to find your level, which is what I want.

‘I’ve a little sniff in League One, there have been some good times and then some bad times. It increases your confidence and you feel good, but you learn a lot more from the mistakes you make.

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‘Looking at some of the mistakes I’ve made, I don’t want to replicate them and, at the back of my mind, it shouldn’t happen again.

‘That’s the biggest part of development. Making mistakes, not dwelling on them too much and learning from them.’

Mnoga has played just one loan match away from Fratton Park.

That arrived for the Rocks in August 2019, when they lost 3-1 at Bishop’s Stortford in the Isthmian League, Premier Division.

Featuring for the opposition that day was former Norwich and Reading striker Jamie Cureton – weeks before his 44th birthday.

Mnoga added: ‘I came up against Jamie Cureton, who was in his 40s, small, really quick and an excellent player. I had never come up against players like that before.

‘It was his movement, he would pull off the back of my shoulder. One minute I’d know where he is, then he’s making runs in behind. I had to quickly suss that out.

‘That's what it’s about, learning new things and finding your best way of playing.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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