Why Danny Cowley believes ex-Norwich midfielder Louis Thompson is now ready to accelerate his Portsmouth career

Danny Cowley admits has been forced into ‘overusing’ veteran Shaun Williams this season.

Monday, 1st November 2021, 6:15 pm

And Pompey’s head coach is ready to remove the shackles and hand Louis Thompson his first League One start.

Thompson is vying with Williams for a central midfield spot when Cheltenham visit Fratton Park tomorrow night (7.45pm).

With Joe Morrell set for a recall following his starting omission against Bolton as an injury precaution and Ryan Tunnicliffe out, one remaining spot is up for grabs.

Certainly Thompson’s entrance in Saturday’s 1-0 victory caught the eye, representing his sixth appearance in the Blues’ last seven matches as he eases his way into the side.

According to Cowley, the time is now right for the ex-Norwich man to be entrusted with a starting XI spot – which could be bad news for the 35-year-old Williams.

Cowley told The News: ‘Shaun has done a really good job, we have probably overused him. We didn’t anticipate using him as much as we have.

‘I think the team needed him, his physicality, his know-how, he is obviously unbelievably composed on the ball, a real technical leader in that respect.

Louis Thompson has made six League One appearances for Pompey - but has still to start. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘He’s always willing to get on the ball and take responsibility in that moment, manipulating the ball to keep it on the safe side away from the defender.

‘We didn’t anticipate using a 35-year-old game-in, game-out in a three-game week, but it was needs must.

‘With Louis, I think he’s ready to start. We just have to keep making sure we manage minutes each week.

‘He gives us an athleticism and power, maybe also a robustness, in that area which we wouldn’t have otherwise.

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‘Louis uses the ball well and is tactically very bright, so there’s a lot to like. The fact he has now been able to have a sustained period on the grass is a real positive for him – and definitely for us.’

Cowley concedes he’s had to resist using Thompson more in the interests of not causing his talented midfielder to break down.

That means the 26-year-old’s Blues starts have so far been restricted to the Papa John’s Trophy.

Pompey’s head coach added: ‘We are trying to build up Louis gradually and not get too greedy.

‘It’s tough because he’s a really good player and we want to use him more, but we’re trying to be as disciplined as we can in terms of our team selection.

‘We have good competition. It is probably the one area where we have what I would class as really good competition for places.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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