Three games, three triallist left-backs - Portsmouth boss' recruitment hunt continues after setback over Coventry candidate

Of Pompey’s lengthy procession of summer triallists, Brandon Mason’s was the shortest stint.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 12:00 pm
Updated Monday, 26th July 2021, 12:01 pm
Brandon Mason puts in a block during his only Pompey pre-season appearance. Picture: Rogan/JMP

The latest potential left-back recruit lasted but a few days at Fratton Park, albeit his exit had mitigating circumstances.

According to the Coventry man’s Twitter account, the swift departure was prompted by injury.

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It remains to be seen whether Danny Cowley maintains his interest once Mason is declared available again. What is certain, though, is Coventry are keen to offload him.

Still, the Blues are no clearer identifying left-back competition for Lee Brown following this latest setback.

Mason is among three triallists for that specific position since pre-season training kicked off.

Before him was Sam Habergham, while after him is Renedi Masampu. Of the three, Mason represented the more realistic fit.

Former triallist Sam Habergham can't stop Kasey Palmer scoring in Pompey's 3-3 draw at Bristol City. Picture: Rogan/JMP

Habergham spent the opening three weeks training with the Blues, featuring in four of their friendlies.

The arrangement suited both parties, allowing the former Grimsby man to bolster fitness, while boosting training and match numbers for Cowley.

Certainly there was no expectation of a permanent stay for the 29-year-old, who previously worked with Pompey’s boss at Braintree and Lincoln.

A serious knee injury had kept Habergham out of the game for a lengthy period before he won a short-team deal at Grimsby in January following a successful trial.

The full-back would feature 13 times for the Mariners, of which 10 were starts, yet was unable to prevent them suffering relegation from the Football League.

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Released at the end of last term, he reunited with Cowley and former Lincoln team-mate Sean Raggett on the south coast for the start of pre-season training.

However, the 3-3 draw at Bristol City, in which he largely played centre-half, proved to be a final friendly outing and he had departed before Saturday’s Kenilworth Road trip.

It was believed Pompey wanted to look before deciding whether to pursue a loan, although Coventry were convinced the arrangement was ahead of a permanent deal.

When asked, Cowley insisted both options were open to him.

The 23-year-old was earmarked for 60 minutes against Bristol City, joining other triallists and fringe players for the second period of the 120-minute encounter.

However, a knee injury to Brown forced him off after 16 minutes – and hastened an early entry for Mason.

The former Watford player would later be troubled by an unspecified ‘tightness’ and had to come off on 90 minutes, to be replaced by Marlee Francois, a winger donated by the hosts who subsequently equalised.

Although unclear how severe the complaint was for Mason, two days later his Pompey spell was over through apparent injury issues.

That quickly brought in Renedi Masampu, a 21-year-old former Chelsea left-back and free agent.

He was granted nine minutes from the bench against Luton, replacing Brown as Cowley initiated a flurry of late substitutions.

Having been released from Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2019, he joined Isthmian League side Whyteleafe and was most recently at National League South team Dulwich Hamlet.

Masampu, who has also trained with Sheffield Wednesday this summer, could now feature against Chelsea under-23s tomorrow (6pm).

Although don’t dare rule out a fourth left-back triallist by the time the behind-closed-doors match comes around. It has been one of those summers.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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