England under-19 international Marcus Tavernier is on Pompey’s radar as they seek to strengthen.
The News spoke to the Middlesbrough Gazette’s Anthony Vickers about the 19-year-old winger.
Here’s what he had to say…
Marcus Tavernier made a dramatic impact when he first appeared early last season.
At the time, then-manager Garry Monk was experimenting with various formations and threw him in. People had barely heard of him at that point.
Suddenly the lad was in the first-team displaying his attacking instinct and ability to beat players, weighing in with a couple of assists and, most eye-catching of all, scoring against Sunderland.
It lasted for six weeks and, as happens with teenage footballers, he kind of disappeared. Yet he still made a very big impact and people assumed he would be back.
Unfortunately for Tavernier, Tony Pulis took over from Garry Monk and completely switched things technically. He is not a Pulis-template midfielder, which are big and strapping.
After falling down the pecking order, in January the lad was loaned to MK Dons and started off quite well, by all accounts. However, following a niggling injury, he struggled to get back up to full fitness.
Regardless, he really impressed and in December was handed a new three-and-a-half year contract.
Tavernier can play on the left or right flank and while players aged 17 or 18 can look overawed in the first-team, he definitely wasn’t.
He’s confident, direct, has fast feet, runs at people, has good distribution and at the time stood out in a really static team. This is a young player not scared to try things.
I’m actually a bit surprised he slipped off the radar last season, but the pressure was starting to build on Monk at the time.
When that happens, the manager tends to go with experience rather than youth and Tavernier was pushed out to the fringes, despite still being highly regarded.
Still, he has been with the first-team squad in pre-season, joining them on a training camp in Austria, and is presently with the England under-19s in Finland.
It might be a few weeks before he returns from the European Championship, so any interested clubs would need to wait.
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