Revealed: Why Portsmouth never recruited striker on deadline day and Ellis Harrison stayed amid Plymouth Argyle, Oxford United and Sheffield Wednesday talk

Andy Cullen has revealed the reasons why a striker did not arrive at Pompey on deadline day.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 6:35 pm
Ellis Harrison was linked with a Pompey exit this summer

And the Blues chief executive has detailed the factors which led to Ellis Harrison staying put as the transfer window reached its climax on Tuesday night.

Cullen explained Danny Cowley prioritised bringing in an attacking midfielder and versatile right-sided defender over bolstering his forward line.

That led to the head coach focussing his playing budget into those areas, with Premier League Arsenal plundered for one of their brightest talents on loan in Miguel Azeez.

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Then came Mahlon Romeo’s deadline day move, with Pompey paying a sizeable contribution to the experienced Championship defender’s wages to bring him in from Millwall.

With nearly £1.5m invested in Harrison and John Marquis there was, of course, already a big commitment made to existing strikers.

Cullen said: ‘In the last few days the absolute priority from Danny was to recruit an attacking midfielder and the second was a right-sided defender.

‘The midfielder was Miguel and the defender was Mahlon, who can not only play right-back but right wing-back and give flexibility in formation.

‘There are other players who can go into a back three and there’s options at left wing-back.

‘They were the two big ones for Danny.

‘We discussed it with Danny and in terms of the forward position, which is the other big chestnut at the moment, we felt those players coming in would liven up what we had.

‘We were both mindful of the investment in the front line with Ellis and John, in particular.

‘These are two players the club have committed a lot of money to in terms of fees and wages.

‘John got nearly 20 goals last season and Ellis didn’t get going through injuries.’

Many supporters were left disappointed by the lack of striker arriving, with Pompey failing to find enough attacking threat across their start to the season.

It was something Cowley himself had said he was looking for, but that addition never materialised before the deadline.

It looked as if Harrison was the player who could make way, with the likes of Oxford United and Sheffield Wednesday linked while Plymouth made a late move for the front man.

But Pompey accepting a last-ditch exit for the £450,000 signing from Ipswich, left no room to add a suitable replacement.

So with Gassan Ahadme and George Hirst arriving to challenge for a place and John Marquis the other front man, the Blues went with what they had at their disposal.

Cullen added: ‘Danny finished last season with just John up front.

‘Now we’ve got John, Ellis, Gassan - who did very well in pre-season - and George who was another one Danny really wanted.

‘We had to work really hard with Leicester because there was a lot of competition from Championship and League One clubs to get him.

‘We’ve got a lot of options up front and felt really comfortable with that.

‘There was interest in Ellis, but if we took that up it would have just made us weaker in the last couple of days – which was when the interest came in.

‘There just wasn’t anyone there who would have made us stronger.

‘We were comfortable with that and that’s all I can report back - those (the defender and midfielder) were our two priorities.’

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