Joe Gallen: Time for Ellis Harrison to become a regular Portsmouth starter
Ellis Harrison has been assured of a long-awaited Pompey first-team spot following his goal-scoring return.
The summer signing from Ipswich was handed only a fourth League One start of the campaign in last night’s visit of Southend.
He responded by netting twice in the 4-1 thumping of Sol Campbell’s team, taking his tally to seven in all competitions this season.
John Marquis, operating in an unfamiliar number 10 role, and substitute Marcus Harness completed the comprehensive scoreline for Kenny Jackett’s side.
Yet it was man-of-the-match Harrison who caught the eye during only a fourth league start this term.
And Joe Gallen is convinced the moment has come for a regular Blues starting place for the 25-year-old.
Pompey's assistant boss said: ‘Yes, I think Ellis is due a run in the side and I’m sure he has been a bit disappointed as to why he hasn’t.
‘He will be looking for a run, he deserves a run, but Brett (Pitman) is on the bench, we have a good squad of players, everyone is going to have to take it game-by-game and earn the right to play and earn the right to be picked every week.
‘I think Ellis deserves a chance, though – and I think he is going to get one.
‘As long as he continues those three major things of holding the ball up, running down the sides and getting on the end of crosses with his head, which he can and is his forte, then I think he has a chance of an extended run.
‘John has (previously) played in that position and we brought John and Ellis to fight it out – but maybe we can play them together.
‘We think Ellis has quite a simple game about him and can do those three things and they are the major things we want.’
Last night was Harrison’s 16th appearance since his pre-season arrival from the Tractor Boys.
Although a regular in cup competitions, he has largely served from the bench in league action.
Yet Gallen believes the Welshman is ideally suited as the lone striker in Jackett’s preferred 4-4-2 system.
He added: ‘We think Ellis is an out-and-out number nine and pretty suited to how we want our number nine to play.
‘There are three things with it. We want someone to challenge on headers, with Ellis very good in the air.
‘We want someone to really stretch the opposition's defence, getting the ball down the sides, which also opens up space for the three players behind to receive the ball in pockets into feet.
‘And we want him to put the ball in the net.’