'Probably just not the right fit for us' - Danny Cowley reflects on the rise or fall of Portsmouth's many pre-season triallists

A different week, a familiar influx of triallists striving to catch Danny Cowley’s eye.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 4:30 pm
Danny Cowley addresses his Pompey team at half-time of their friendly against the Hawks. It has been a contracted squad propped up by triallists this summer. Picture: Paul Collins

It would be no exaggeration to estimate around 30 players have so far been granted the opportunity to audition since Pompey’s return to training.

Now in the fourth week of pre-season, former Shrewsbury midfielder Sean Goss and Coventry’s Brandon Mason are the latest to arrive.

The duo – along with an unnamed player sporting number 21 – featured in Tuesday’s 3-3 draw at Bristol City.

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Alas that means farewell to Jake Hesketh, Ryan Leak, Akin Odimayo, Madger Gomes, and two other triallists at St George’s Park who were never identified.

Danny Cowley told The News: ‘We had some triallists in last week which did great, but are probably just not the right fit for us.

‘Ultimately, we feel at the moment, where we are short of players, it works for us and for them. Hopefully they’ve had high-quality training and it’s a really good way into their season.

‘If they do unbelievably well then we might consider taking them. If not, then we’ve got them to a really good level of physical fitness which will allow them to attack their season wherever that may be.

‘Jake Hesketh, in particular, did great, he has a great work ethic, some real technical ability, I loved how hard he was fighting.

‘We weren’t in a position at the weekend to offer him a deal and we have to be fair to people, although you never say never in football.

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‘Madger Gomes, did great, he’s a great kid, I really like him, he plays with an energy and enthusiasm, always with a smile on the face, I enjoyed working with him.

‘We’ve had loads of young triallists and have already signed one or two as a consequence of this process.’

Pompey named eight triallists against Bristol City, with Ahadme and Reid later unveiled by the club as signings following the 3-3 draw.

The Blues were still missing Gavin Bazunu, Michael Jacobs, Liam Vincent and Paul Downing through injury, while Lee Brown left the field after 16 minutes.

And crucially, the presence of triallists continue to add depth to a squad currently glaringly lacking in numbers.

Cowley added: ‘What would be best is having my 22-man squad by June 28 and being able to work with them every day to get the team to where it wants to be – but that’s just now where it’s at.

‘If I only worked with our (contracted) players, then at this stage they would all be playing longer than they are physically ready to do. We would expose them and probably injure them as a consequence of doing that.

‘This is the safest way of navigating through it for us and, at the same time, gives us a great opportunity to look at some young players.’

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