New Portsmouth head coach Danny Cowley has revealed that recent trialists Max Taylor and Pierre Ekwah have been discussed as potential new signings he looks to boost his squad for next season, despite only being initially contracted to manage Pompey until the end of the current campaign.
Taylor and Ekwah, who are set to be released from Manchester United and Chelsea at the end of the season, featured for Pompey’s reserve side over two weeks ago as they defeated Luton Town’s under-21 side 2-1.
But with a change of manager occurring since then, fans assumed that the club’s interest would be over – but that isn’t the case at all.
Cowley has revealed that he has been in touch with the club’s head of recruitment Phil Boardman over 21-year-old centre-back Taylor and 19-year-old French midfielder Ekwah and he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of either of them joining up with the club at the start of next season.
“We have spoken about them both and if we can get the opportunity to look at any player we think is good enough to play for Pompey, if there’s an opportunity to try before you buy then that’s a really good thing to be able to do,” Cowley told the Portsmouth News.
“All of a sudden you see them in that environment. We have a model we use to allow us watch the player at the final part of the recruitment. We need to watch them, fall into our statistical model we use and see how they’d perform in our team.
“While you’re always trying to find a player with the best attributes, you’re always thinking about their character because we know how important that character, togetherness and spirit is for the group.”
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One of the trialists – Taylor – has a very inspirational story, having been diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2018, just months after signing his first professional contract with Manchester United.
Despite doubts from the player himself that he’d ever play again, Taylor made a full recovery and and went on non-league loans in 2020 to Stalybridge Celtic and Kidderminster Harriers.
And Cowley has said he wants strong characters in his squad with Taylor potentially fitting that bill.
“For us, when you see players go through difficult moments in their lives and come through them, that will naturally build resilience, determination and robustness,” Cowley said of Taylor.
“The fact Max has been able to do that and play professionally is a credit to him and he’ll always have my utmost respect.”
Despite only being on a short-term contract, all the signs point towards Cowley staying beyond that and he already seems to have an eye on next season’s recruitment.
Taylor and Ekwah don’t seem the exact type to be signed and thrown straight into the first-team, but if they impress enough if they’re called back in for another trial period then there could be an opportunity there for them to pen deals with the south coast club.
Neither player has much experience in senior football, but they impressed in a reserve game and that’s the first step, but Cowley wasn’t at the club at that time and now they will have to impress the new man in charge.