Why Portsmouth's former Sheffield United favourite Kieron Freeman has earned Danny Cowley praise after being recalled from the cold

A fall guy for the 4-0 Fratton Park hammering dished out by Ipswich in mid-October, Kieron Freeman found him surplus to requirements in subsequent Pompey efforts to resurrect their League One season.

By Mark McMahon
Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 4:55 am

A run out in the Papa John’s Trophy was all the former Sheffield United man was afforded for more than a month as he found himself benched in the aftermath of that embarrassing night.

But fast forward to the present day and Freeman is once more an integral part of manager Danny Cowley’s plans.

Not only that, he’s earning special praise from the man who has unceremoniously dropped him twice this season after games to forget.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

And all while playing out of position as the former Wales international continues to do his bit for the Blues’ cause.

The full-back has been operating as a right-sided centre-back in recent games as injury and illness have limited Cowley’s options.

Those five games have seen Pompey concede just once and extend their current unbeaten league run to nine outings as they close the gap on the play-off places to a single point.

That’s not bad for a player left completely out in the cold following that Tractor Boys tragedy.

Kieron Freeman is back in favour at Pompey Picture: Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com

And Cowley has let his appreciation be known as he hailed Freeman’s ability to adapt to the requirements asked of him.

The Blues boss told The News: ‘Kieron has had to play out of position, like one or two others, just because where we are with injuries and unavailability.

‘He has done fine and shown some real quality.

‘In possession, his ability to select the right pass, execute the right pass, is exceptional and we really like Kieron when he is playing with that intensity against the ball, winning his one-v-one duels and he is an intelligent defender.

‘He has to get that balance because he’s not a stereotypical right centre-half in terms of his physical profile so he has to make sure that he wins his duels, whether it be on the floor, in the air.

‘In an intelligent way he has to outwit, which is Kieron’s strength because he is very bright in terms of his football.

‘I think has done really well in a back three, considering.

‘He gives you a real control in possession, a real composure, he is able to find his forward pass, is able to get good switches of play.

‘Defensively he uses intelligence in his duels.’

Despite a five-match absence for Freeman in the league and a place on the bench immediately after storming down the tunnel when substituted in the second half against MK Dons, the summer signing as started 16 of Pompey’s 22 third-tier games to date this season.

His versatility makes the 29-year-old a key player in the Blues squad as focus turns to making further inroads on the promotion race over the second half of the campaign.

Part of that will include new arrivals at Fratton Park in January, with centre-back just one area Cowley wants to add to in the transfer window.

That could mean further spells on the bench for Freeman and his team-mates, with the games coming thick and fast and the Blues’ resources set to be tested once again.

However, Cowley has no concerns about that.

He added: ‘All the players understand the circumstances and the situation, they are all team first.

‘Their values are that nobody is bigger than the team.

‘Everybody puts the team before themselves and when the team is in need, they we’ll step up.’