The one glaring weakness within Portsmouth's new-look squad - and why Ipswich departure has created it

The departure of Marcus Harness bolstered Pompey’s transfer kitty, provided leverage in Joe Pigott’s loan arrangements and, perhaps harshly, was greeted cheerfully by some of the Fratton faithful.

Monday, 25th July 2022, 2:21 pm

There is, however, one significant drawback – and not the loss of 31 goals across the three seasons during which he served with the Blues.

For Harness had pace.

The winger possesses the prized ability to run at players with speed, a direct option demonstrating quick feet and willingness to challenge full-backs on the outside with the ball at his feet.

Without him, Danny Cowley’s squad are a little pedestrian and, to be blunt, rather one-paced in attacking situations.

Granted, the arrivals of Pigott and Colby Bishop, two established League One goal getters, have transformed a striking department which previously numbered zero.

Elsewhere, the versatile Reeco Hackett has returned from injury, while Ronan Curtis and Michael Jacobs also deliver the wing options.

Yet, in terms of genuine speed, it’s a characteristic clearly lacking from any of their make-up.

Marcus Harness' departure for Ipswich leaves a Pompey side glaringly short of pace throughout. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages

Even the full-backs, when granted the licence to roam, lack pace. Perhaps with the exception of Denver Hume, who has frustratingly been sidelined by injury since March.

Potentially Jayden Reid can help, albeit is currently sidelined with a hamstring problem. What’s more, he has been glimpsed on very few occasions, thereby making it difficult to accurately judge whether he represents the solution.

Still, for all Harness’ erratic nature, he remains a talented performer who injected pace and directness into Pompey’s play, allowing them to swiftly counter when required, either down the middle or the right flank.

As Saturday’s friendly against Coventry highlighted, it’s an option now glaringly absent from Cowley’s side.

Unsurprisingly, Pompey’s head coach’s next foray into the transfer market is to resolve such a missing ingredient.

Whether that’s another striker, an additional winger, or the role combined, it’s a capture viewed as essential business ahead of Saturday’s curtain-raiser at Sheffield Wednesday.

Swansea’s Jordon Garrick has been mooted and, by all accounts, appears to fit the bill in terms of his attacking credentials and what Pompey desperately require.

Whether that particular interest comes to fruition remains to be seen, nonetheless other options remain during the hunt for more additions to join this summer’s seven signings.

In truth, Cowley could well require two new wingers, dependent on Curtis’ Fratton Park future amid ongoing interest, particularly, as it seems, from abroad.

The Republic of Ireland international is not equipped with blistering pace, rather he prefers to slow down and cut inside onto his right foot whenever sent scurrying down the left flank.

His playing strengths lie elsewhere and, in the second half against Coventry, when restored to his favoured left-wing spot at the interval instead of asked to play up front, was far more effective.

That same match, Cowley operated with Connor Ogilvie and Joe Rafferty at full-backs in a 4-4-2, with Marlon Pack and Louis Thompson in the centre of midfield.

Jacobs and Reeco Hackett were the wingers, with Pigott and Curtis in attack, although Bishop was introduced at the break for Jacobs, prompting Curtis to drop to the left flank to accommodate the new signing.

As we were reminded in the 2-0 there is plenty of League One quality present, along with the return of Sean Raggett (back) and Joe Morrell (hernia) following injury.

But, crucially, there remains little pace in Cowley’s squad to consistently test any opponent, let alone one from the Championship in the Sky Blues.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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