Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley has admitted his annoyance at winger Marcus Harness’ selflessness ahead of his reunion with former side Burton Albion tonight, speaking to The News.
The 25-year-old, who has been called up to the Republic of Ireland international squad in the past despite his status as a third-tier player along with teammate Ronan Curtis, has established himself as a key player since his arrival from the Pirelli Stadium in 2019.
Last season, he recorded a reasonably impressive 15 goal contributions in 46 league appearances as a reliable figure out wide for the south-coast side, replicating the form that earned him a move to Fratton Park in the first place.
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During the summer, Danny Cowley admitted he was expecting second-tier sides to enter the race for his signature after such an accomplished season individually, despite Pompey’s failure to win against Accrington Stanley on the final day of the season and secure a place in the top six.
However, a move away failed to materialise and Cowley has been speaking candidly to the media about the winger in recent days, first identifying his need to show consistency if he wants to make the step up to the top flight and identifying another area for improvement in his latest comments.
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The 42-year-old said to The News: “Marcus is an intelligent player, he’s really good at finding his own space and has a wonderful ability to speed the play up.
“He has this lovely penetration off of his dribble and he’s a super finisher.
“Marcus has such a clean strike of the ball, and we see it day-after-day on the training pitch and sometimes he’s almost so selfless that he’s always trying to create the goal rather than actually taking the chance himself, so it was great to see him score the goal on Saturday.
“He obviously goes back to Burton on Tuesday which is a club he knows very very well and there’s no doubt that he’ll be looking forward to the game.”
If your manager is citing selflessness as a potential weakness, then you know you’re a top-quality player in League One. However, the point is still valid and could play a huge part in a potential step up to the second tier.
Recording more goals will only help to generate more interest in his services, and though Pompey may end up being the victims of their own success with Harness if he improves further, it will be worth it if he can help them to reach a top-six spot.
It’s critical the 25-year-old strikes the right balance though. Harness being a team player is a strength of his and one of the reasons why he has succeeded in Hampshire, so he must be careful not to go the other way and be too greedy in his quest to impress.
This decision-making could be key in any push for promotion, because whilst an added layer of selfishness could add crucial goals to the south coast club’s tally, a team effort will be required and they will need to utilise their key strengths against the likes of Sunderland and Wigan Athletic who both look extremely strong as things stand.
Being more selfish may not come naturally to him, but it could be a quicker issue to sort out than consistency, because he will need to work on both of these areas if he wants to guide Cowley’s men to promotion this term.