Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley has said winger Marcus Harness is missing consistency from his game to become a Championship player as he spoke to The News, despite believing he has the qualities to compete in the second tier.
The 25-year-old recorded 15 goal contributions in 46 league appearances last term, standing out as one of the south-coast side’s most influential players as they narrowly missed out on claiming a place in the top six.
Along with Ronan Curtis, Pompey manager Cowley was expecting Championship clubs to make moves for the duo after seeing them terrorise League One full-backs throughout the 2020/21 campaign, although moves for both failed to materialise in the end.
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After making 52 appearances in all competitions last term, he has been a regular player for Portsmouth again this term, although their failure to win the last five league games has dragged them down to 12th after a promising start.
The third-tier club will be relying on him to step up to the plate after a rotten run of form, although the one barrier that could be currently stopping him from making a real impact is his consistency, something that is also preventing him from playing in the Championship according to his current boss.
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Speaking to The News about the 25-year-old, Cowley said: “I think Marcus is a top player at this level and normally top players can play anywhere.
“I think Marcus can play, 7, 10, 11, maybe even wing-back as well.
“He’s got Championship ability but you have to put it all together consistently if you want to be a Championship player – and that’s the journey he’s on.
“We’re working really hard with him to try to achieve that.
“I like the thought of him being able to dribble, penetrate, drive and have two forwards in front of him – that excites me.
“Watching him in training, the things he does, the way he moves, his technical ability.
“But it’s just about finding that level of consistency – and he’s working hard at it.”
This should give Harness the extra source of motivation he needs to go on and gain the consistency needed to potentially earn himself a move to the Championship, although he could potentially do it with Portsmouth if he and a few others including Ronan Curtis step up and fire them towards the top six.
However, a play-off spot isn’t guaranteed considering their current form and how competitive the third tier is likely to be throughout 2021/22.
Sheffield Wednesday, Wycombe Wanderers and Rotherham United will all be keen to return to the second tier at the first time of asking, Sunderland will be pushing hard again and after a summer of spending, Ipswich Town could be late bloomers after a slow start to their season.
What would a move/promotion mean to Harness though? Perhaps a better chance of being recalled to the Republic of Ireland national squad and an even bigger stage to perform on.
And there’s no doubt he will want to test himself at the highest level possible as he enters the peak of his career, with or without Portsmouth. His consistency will be key though, because especially with Covid, no second-tier side will want to splash out unless they know they’re going to get a player who regularly turns up.