United with the fans - why Danny Cowley agrees with frustration over lack of Portsmouth signings. But refuses to panic recruit

Danny Cowley spent three weeks assessing the talents of Ryan Leak before opting against it.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 4:55 am
Danny Cowley recognises Pompey need more players - but won't be rushed into recruiting the right calibre. Picture: Nigel Keene/ProSportsImages

Subsequently, the triallist was snapped up by League One contemporaries Burton within three days.

It remains to be seen which club chose wisely.

The 23-year-old Wolves Academy product left Spanish Segunda Division side Burgos in the summer and eyed a return home.

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Invited to attend the first day of Pompey pre-season training, Leak featured in three friendlies and participated in their fitness camp at St George’s Park.

Intriguingly, the central defender faced future club Burton at the end of that week-long stay, featuring for 60 minutes in the 120-minute encounter.

By the end of the following week, he had linked-up with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s side – and days later was handed a two-year contract with a club option.

Good luck to Leak, who, by all accounts, conducted himself excellently during his Pompey stay, while demonstrated full commitment in his match appearances.

Football opinions inevitably diverge, Cowley elected not to sign him – while Hasselbaink leapt at the opportunity following his display in a friendly against Leicester City.

Pompey’s head coach has repeatedly reiterated his frustration with the speed of his club’s recruitment drive and the lack of new faces to date.

Cowley does not need enlightening that more signings are required, while he certainly doesn’t require reminding that League One starts in nine days time.

There have been no devious attempts at PR spin to brainwash the Fratton faithful into believing the Blues are joyous over the level of summer business so far.

Cowley agrees wholeheartedly – far more players are needed. United in agreement.

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However, Pompey’s boss is adamant that the necessary recruitment will not be driven by panic.

A trolley dash down the aisle before closing time may sound tempting. After all, waste not want not – and the existing squad is undoubtedly light.

There remains a rationality with Cowley, though, exuding a calmness amid such testing times. Signing players at break-neck speed must be tempting, yet he declines.

By his own admission, he could comfortably attract the numbers and put up the squad full signs by frolicking in the bulging triallist and free agent market.

But no, not on his watch. Cowley wants a certain standard and desired calibre of player at Portsmouth Football Club.

It could well be at his own detriment, certainly few could claim this present squad is better than the one which took the Blues to a disappointing eighth last season.

Heading into what is clearly the most competitive League One since Pompey returned for the 2017-18 season, rightly there are concerns over personnel.

There’s still time, of course. The Cowleys and their recruitment team are working hard, while there are three loan slots available which are likely to be filled close to the season’s start.

The man at the Blues helm recognises the shortfalls – yet is far from unnerved.

Pompey require another central defender and Cowley decided that man wasn’t Ryan Leak after studying him at close quarters over a period of time.

There’ll be alternatives on the table. Let’s hope they can come to fruition and strengthen this understaffed Blues squad.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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