The alternative Manchester United centre-back Portsmouth could look to after triallist eyes Maribor deal

It's a position Danny Cowley still regards as a body light as he continues to compile a squad capable of delivering Championship football at the fifth time of asking.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 3:04 pm
Updated Friday, 9th July 2021, 3:44 pm

While Pompey are relatively well-stocked in central defence, with Clark Robertson, Paul Downing and Sean Raggett as options, the head coach would still like another addition before the transfer window closes on August 31.

It's unlikely that it'll be former triallist Max Taylor who'll be coming to Fratton Park, however.

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Given that Chelsea's Pierre Ekwah and Crystal Palace keeper Rohan Luthra also trialled last term, the Blues' recruitment team have been looking at Category One academies in a bid to unearth a fledgling hidden gem.

And as the Blues' search for another centre-half continues, an option could be to turn their attention to one of Taylor's former Red Devils team-mates - Di'Shon Bernard.

The Manchester Evening News reports that the 20-year-old is set to be loaned out again in the 2021-22 campaign – and this time to League One.

Di'Shon Bernard in action for Salford during his loan spell from Manchester United. Picture: Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Bernard experienced his first taste of regular senior football at League Two money-spinners Salford City last term.

Arriving in October, the former Chelsea youth defender racked up 31 appearances for the Ammies, scoring two goals.

He was a regular under both Graham Alexander and Richie Wellens, racking up 10 successive before the latter was controversially sacked only four months in the hot seat.

After Gary Bowyer took charge for the rest of the season, Bernard was used less frequently and Salford finished a disappointing eighth in the table – missing out on the play-offs.

Still, Bernard could regard his time at the Peninsula Stadium as a success, with his stats backing that up.

According to WhoScored.com ratings, the London-born ace was Salford's top performer throughout the campaign.

Meanwhile, Wyscout stats ranked him as the six-best performing centre-half in League Two.

Not bad, then, for a youngster who'd played just one first-team game for Man Utd and two matches for their under-21s in the Papa John's Trophy before going to Salford.

Given he's come through an esteemed academy, Bernard will be comfortable playing out from the back – an attribute that Cowley wants from his defenders.

However, speaking to United's website, Bernard also told how he learnt to become more physical out on loan and was tested by a lot more aerial balls than in under-23s football.

Certainly, if regarded as good enough to play week in, week out, Bernard does meet the criteria should the Blues look to sign a player from the Premier League heavyweights once again.