Previously on Portsmouth's summer shopping list - but Peterborough's Sammie Szmodics struggling to replicate form of last season

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He was a Pompey summer target that unsurprisingly got fans excited.

And the disappointment when Sammie Szmodics opted to instead rejoin Peterborough was palpable after what had been a subdued transfer window up to that point.

When it emerged the Blues were interested in Szmodics, it was the uplift needed.

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After supporters witnessed their side suffer League One play-off semi-final defeat for successive seasons, they required some cheer.

Up to that point, only Sean Raggett had been recruited – but he'd already been on loan the previous campaign and wasn’t a fresh face.

However, Szmodics was the big-hitting name the Fratton faithful craved.

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At one stage, Pompey were ahead in the race to sign him for Bristol City.

Sammie Szmodics of Peterborough United. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty ImagesSammie Szmodics of Peterborough United. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images
Sammie Szmodics of Peterborough United. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images

The Blues were hopeful the 25-year-old could remedy the problem number-10 position that so many players failed to do.

Taking on that mantle was something that did appeal to Szmodics.

But when he opted to go back to the Posh, this reporter took some inevitable pelters when he opted to go back to the Posh.

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Szmodics had thrived on loan at London Road during the second half of the 2019-20 season. He registered four goals and three assists, which helped propel Darren Ferguson’s side up the table.

Before the campaign was curtailed amid the coronavirus outbreak, there weren’t too many who’d have bet against Peterborough missing out on automatic promotion.

They were firing on all cylinders, with Szmodics only bolstering a potent attack that already bragged Ivan Toney and Siriki Dembele among others.

Owner Darragh MacAnthony had every right to be livid when the table was decided by a points-per-game formula – which saw Peterborough miss out on the play-offs.

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The Posh declared they were launching “Operation Vengeance” for the 2020-21 campaign and determined to go up.

Szmodics was recruited permanently to be a key cog in that mission.

Things haven't exactly gone how he would have hoped so far this season, however, and has struggled to replicate his impressive exploits of last term.

Ahead of Peterborough’s trip to Fratton Park tomorrow, Szmodics has recorded only a solitary goal and assist in 14 league matches.

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The Posh have won one of their past five league games, most recently losing 2-1 to AFC Wimbledon on Wednesday.

Manager Darren Ferguson knows his forwards – and Szmodics – are struggling for form but has backed them to come good.

He told the Peterborough Telegraph: 'With the quality of player we have up front if we keep creating chances we will soon start converting them.

'We know Sammie Szmodics can score goals at this and things will go for him soon enough.'

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After missing out on Szmodics, Pompey turned their attention to Michael Jacobs. It was, without doubt, a palatable replacement given his serial record of being promoted from League One. What's more, he didn't cost a penny having left Wigan months earlier.

Jacobs has made a highly favourable impression since his arrival. He dislodged Ronan Curtis on the left flank before suffering a knee injury at Sunderland in October that's sidelined him since.

Perhaps what's more pertinent is how Szmodics would have fitted into Kenny Jackett's current system.

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The switch to a 4-4-2 formation has rendered the specialist attacking-midfield role redundant, with Tom Naylor and Andy Cannon making the two spots in the engine room their own.

Still, it'd be folly to suggest Szmodics wouldn't have improved Pompey had he been prised to PO4.

And it’d be folly to think he can’t bounce back to his scintillating best against the side who coveted him not so long ago.