Why Portsmouth should hand ex-Bradford City and Southend goalkeeper number one shirt after Manchester City starlet's departure

Gavin Bazunu's Pompey replacement may be hiding in plain sight.

By Sam Cox
Sunday, 22nd May 2022, 4:55 am

It’s no secret that the Blues will be searching to fill the void left by the Republic of Ireland international this summer – with the 20-year-old set to return to Manchester City.

Whoever is tasked with replicating his immense performances may view it as a daunting prospect.

But the club could do a lot worse than handing long-time understudy, Alex Bass, the number one jersey next season.

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Arguably, the Fratton academy graduate has never let his boyhood club down when wearing royal blue.

In his two League One appearances during the first half of last season he collected clean sheets – and was crucial to the victory over Wycombe in November.

He stood firm and saved a first-half penalty, before making a string of crucial saves after Marcus Harness had given the club the lead.

A successful loan spell at Bradford followed in January, of course, where he put his injury misfortune behind him to make 21 consecutive appearances.

Alex Bass will return to Pompey this summer. Picture: Alex Burstow/Getty Images

Not only did this show his reliability between the sticks, but it was also an act of mental strength as he came back from a double leg fracture a year earlier.

Danny Cowley will certainly be in the market for a new stopper, after it was announced today Ollie Webber will be departing at the end of his contract.

This leaves only two academy graduates, Bass and Toby Steward, remaining at the club, with the latter only 17.

However, with Pompey in need of reinforcements outfield, to enable their promotion push next term – money could be better invested than on a new number one.

And with him falling into the category of someone Pompey can develop and sell for profit, it makes little sense to develop a Premier League starlet on loan again.

A question mark that has often surrounded Bass is his ability with the ball at his feet.

This was certainly a factor which saw Cowley elect Bazunu as first choice last summer, but when examining the comprehensive stats by Wyscout it’s far from a weakness.

During his loan spell at Valley Parade, the ex-Southend man completed 71.1 percent of his long passes and, impressively, 97.4 percent of his short passes.

It remains to be seen what the future holds for Bass, with clubs interested in signing him this summer – including Hartlepool.

However, after devoted service to the club, he should get the chance to try to cement his position as first choice in pre-season at least.