Why Pompey's cancelled Crystal Palace friendly has handed Danny Cowley a triallists dilemma

Crystal Palace’s decision to opt out of their Pompey friendly at St George’s Park has handed head coach Danny Cowley a dilemma.

Thursday, 15th July 2021, 2:57 pm

That’s the verdict of chief sports writer Neil Allen, who says the behind-closed-doors friendly at St George’s Park would have given him a further opportunity to assess the 10 triallists who are currently training with the Blues.

And rather than make the decision to cut ties with some players at the end of Pompey’s five-day stay at the home of the FA, that process will likely be delayed until next week – putting the Blues behind in their preparations for the new season.

The club’s friendly with Palace was cancelled by the Premier League side on Monday, leaving Cowley with no option but to play an in-house 11 v 11 game instead.

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That’s denied the likes of Gassan Ahadme, Jake Hesketh, Akin Odimayo and Madger Gomes the chance to enhance their chances of staying – and puts the Blues’ recruitment strategy under pressure with three weeks to go until the season opener against Fleetwood.

It now appears that any decision will be delayed until after Tuesday’s behind-closed-doors game at Bristol City or after a Pompey XI takes on Gosport Borough 24 hours later at Privett Park.

Speaking to the latest episode of Pompey Talk, Allen said: ‘They (the triallists) been here all week. There's 10 of them and they (Pompey) wanted to see them in match action.

‘And suddenly these triallists haven’t got a game.

Danny Cowley, alright, alongside brother Nicky at the Hawks. Picture: Paul Collins

‘So I wonder if they'll stay a bit longer, play against Bristol City, play even against Gosport as it was going to be a Pompey XI.

‘Perhaps he might put a few triallists there to have a look at them

'For these triallists, it's deprived them of an opportunity.

‘A lot of people ask “how good are they in training?” But you can't judge people in training sessions, you can only properly judge them in games.

‘If someone does a few flicks in training, you think "oh, wonderful” but you need to see them in matches. That's how you assess players accurately.

‘We need to see them in action and the Crystal Palace game was going to be ideal to see if Gassan Ahadme can do it again (after his hat-trick against the Hawks), along with the other players here - Gomes is still around, Hesketh is still here, while there are a few numbers here we don't quite know the names of because Danny Cowley doesn’t want to say who they are.

‘So there's a few here we want to be seeing in action in games.

‘Anyone can do well in one game in pre-season, let's face it.

‘Ryan Bird got a contract after scoring against the Hawks, Eugen Bopp scored against the Hawks - but it's easy to impress in one game. They need more than one game, some of these players.

‘So it will be interesting to see what Cowley does next week about these triallists’