Boss explains striker switch

John Marquis will go straight into the Pompey squad for tomorrow's visit of Fleetwood
John Marquis will go straight into the Pompey squad for tomorrow's visit of Fleetwood

New loan recruit John Marquis has been backed to add Championship quality to the Pompey ranks as Guy Whittingham shuffled his attacking options.

The Blues boss captured the 21-year-old forward from Millwall for a month and allowed Ryan Bird to join Skrill South neighbours Hawks ahead of tomorrow’s League Two clash with Fleetwood Town.

Having spotted Marquis during a Championship clash with Pompey two seasons ago, Whittingham believes the striker will add some extra quality up front and crank up competition for places.

‘I remember him coming on as a substitute against us at Millwall back in the Championship.

‘And looking back through my paperwork, I had him highlighted as one of the players you think is decent,’ said Whittingham.

‘You keep your eye on these sorts of players and we discussed him in the summer.

‘I thought he had good movement and I highlighted him as one for the future.

‘He can play that central man up front but he’s not just a target man.

‘He’s been with Millwall for a fair few years and has got some decent quality and that will benefit us.

‘I think he is a Championship-quality player.’

Marquis has only scored six goals in senior football but has yet to be given an extended run at The Den and will be keen to stake a claim.

There is fierce competition already at Pompey, though, with Patrick Agyemang, David Connolly, Ricky Holmes and Tom Craddock pressing their claims for inclusion.

Whittingham said: ‘John is more in the Patrick role. He is 6ft 1in, is a strong boy and he’s only 21 years old.

‘He can link play, run the channels and has a bit of pace, so he will add good competition for places and will come straight into the squad for this weekend.

‘It won’t be easy for him to get into the team because we’ve got players doing well in that position.

‘But with Ryan going out on loan, we wanted to bring John in to have a look at him.’

Bird joins fellow Blues striker Ashley Harris at Westleigh Park having found his Fratton Park opportunities limited of late.

And Whittingham wants to see the former Burnham striker back among the goals.

‘Ryan was a confident kid when he came here and he was chomping at the bit,’ said the Blues boss.

‘But we’ve got good players here and the opportunity hasn’t come his way, so we think it’s right that he goes to play some games.

‘He has done fantastically with us. He has trained so well but we need to think about keeping him confident and keeping him on the goalscoring trail.’

Meanwhile, Pompey have ended their interest in triallists Shane Byrne and Chris Dickson.

Whittingham said: ‘We just felt John Marquis was the way to go for now.’