Danny Cowley delivers verdict on Ellis Harrison’s future at Portsmouth after transfer decision
Portsmouth head coach Danny Cowley has confirmed forward Ellis Harrison has chosen to stay at Fratton Park instead of leaving on deadline day.
Reported by HampshireLive on Tuesday, the Welsh striker had talks with Plymouth Argyle and Sheffield on Wednesday about a possible move on deadline day, with BBC Radio Sheffield suggesting Bolton Wanderers were also in the game.
Although the disgraced Welsh striker had options for regular football away from Fratton Park, Harrison, who has less than 12 months on his current contract, opted to stay with the Blues and try to earn a place in regular holder.
Cowley has no problem with Harrison staying and hopes to work with the striker for whom Pompey paid hefty fees from Ipswich Town in 2019.
“I had a very good conversation with Ellis on the phone [on Tuesday] evening. He explained his reasons. It is absolutely his prerogative to want to stay, ”said Cowley. HampshireLive.
“We didn’t want to lose him. He is in the last year of his contract. He’s motivated, he knows it’s really important to him in his career after a tough year last year that he’s been playing regularly and he knows he’s in control and it belongs to him.
“He has to get in the best physical condition possible to play his best because Ellis Harrison is playing his best, not only is he a liaison player or a player who occupies the defenders, he also stretches the pitch.
“He has to be able to do those repeated sprints and stretch the pitch and then all of a sudden you see the best of Ellis because he can do all three. Sometimes you’ve got a player who specializes in one, the heist or the tie or the stretch, but Ellis is the one who can do a bit of everything.
“We have to get him in enough shape that when he enters he can become a handful because he stretches the pitch. Defenders don’t like attackers running behind, then defenders get deeper, then that gives him the opportunity to position himself and you can play with him and him and then he can start to tie the game.
“We know that Ellis Harrison at the top of his game can be a real handful and the challenge for Ellis is first, can you get on the team? So, can you make the team a top team? I think he’s capable of both.
One of the main reasoning behind Harrison’s exit was his belief that he wanted to prove to Blues fans why the club chose to recruit him from the Tractor Boys two years ago.
Since his debut, Harrison has scored 16 goals in 71 club appearances, with just nine of those strikes in league games.
Due to an injury over the past six months which included surgery on a knee problem and a bout with coronavirus, Harrison’s only appearance so far since Cowley’s arrival has been a substitute for stoppages game in last month’s victory over Shrewsbury Town.
In a bid to level up and return to his best level faster, Harrison was the first to train on Wednesday, a day the Blues were given a day off by the club’s coaching staff. .
“It was conversation, yes. We spoke yesterday [Tuesday] evening. I think there had been some interest, he had spoken to clubs, but he still feels he has unfinished business here.
“I think he had a good first season and then last season didn’t go as well as he would have liked. The good thing about Ellis is that he’s always pretty honest. He’s pretty aware of why it didn’t go as well as it could have.
“By the time we got there he had contracted an injury which ultimately meant he needed surgery and had finished his season, which is not his fault.
“I know he was disappointed with some of his form at the start of last season and he has a point to prove.
“The words were good [on Tuesday] but it’s always the actions and what’s good for me is that this morning the first thing of a day off he’s been. He had spoken to Nicky [Cowley] to do additional finishing work and additional physical labor. It’s a good sign.”
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John Marquis is currently ahead of Harrison in the pecking order, along with summer loan signings George Hirst and Gassan Ahadme.
Cowley is a fan of Harrison’s physical attributes and feels that with him at his disposal he has a different kind of forward option to turn to.
“I think Ellis is the one who is a little different from the rest,” Cowley added.
“I think he gives more physical presence than the others and you still want that flexibility in your group.”