Portsmouth's promotion hopes 'quids in' if Danny Cowley can get best out of John Marquis - but boss relishing crisis challenge

Danny Cowley has refused to make any excuses as he prepares for another game without ‘complete’ striker John Marquis.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 6:00 am

And Pompey's head coach is relishing the challenge of preparing for a trip to Crewe with a dearth of senior attacking options.

Despite being available again after serving a three-match ban for a red card at Shrewsbury, Marquis is a big doubt for tonight's League One clash at Gresty Road.

The former Doncaster marksman has an ankle issue that’s already required two injections.

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He originally suffered the problem in the Papa John’s Trophy final loss to Salford.

Should Marquis be absent, Cowley will have only three recognised forwards in Ronan Curtis, Ryan Williams and Marcus Harness available – along with teenager Alfie Stanley who will be on the bench.

Ellis Harrison and Michael Jacobs (both knee) are ruled out for the rest of the season, while Jordy Hiwula remains sidelined with an ankle setback.

However, Cowley is taking the positives from the situation – and is ready to tackle the injury crisis ‘head-on’.

John Marquis. Picture: Dennis Goodwin

He said: ‘We have got our challenges in terms of injuries but I'd rather see the positives.

‘The positives are that other people get opportunities. We need to find a way to work around that.

‘We have challenges at the top end of the pitch. To only have three senior attacking players is tough.

‘On Saturday, three of the front four were out of position. Andy Cannon played in the number-10 role when he's a number six/ eight, Ryan played on the left and Ronan as a number nine.

‘That's not ideal and I was really proud of the efforts. We couldn't fault the effort and I was pleased how we finished the game in a relentless nature. We never want to lose and do everything to try to avoid, but if you're going to lose they've got to kill you to beat you.

‘You would like to have some options to challenge the opponent and give them something to think about. We do ask an awful lot in terms of the high press, work against the ball and penetration with the ball.

‘In an ideal world, you'd like to freshen that up in games and between games. We haven't got that luxury so we can't moan about it. Moaning about it is not going to change the situation so we've got to find a way and that's what we intend to do.

‘I believe in us, the way we work and this group. If we get injuries and problems, we see them as challenges and tackle them head-on. No-one is stopping me from where I want to go.’

Marquis has been available for just one game since Cowley succeeded Kenny Jackett in the hot seat last month.

That was the 2-1 win at Shrewsbury where he scored before being sent off in the second half.

Cowley's desperate to get Marquis back to fitness as he regards the ex-Millwall man as the most exciting number nine he's ever worked with.

‘John is desperate to be out there and doing everything he can to be available,’ added Cowley.

‘Let’s be honest, Portsmouth Football Club is a much better team with Johnny Marquis and he excites me more than any number nine I've ever worked with.

‘We've worked with some good ones, some expensive ones and some that have been great to us in terms of our success.

‘In terms of his movement and ability to link the team, John is a complete number nine. I'm really excited to get the best out of him because if we do, we're all quids in.’

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