Bird back but Blues want Marquis stay

Pompey striker John Marquis in action against Plymouth Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey striker John Marquis in action against Plymouth Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey are set to extend John Marquis’ loan spell – as long as Millwall grant permission for him to stay.

The 21-year-old striker has scored two goals in four games and is expected to partner Patrick Agyemang up front in tomorrow’s home clash with Bury – the last match of his scheduled month at the club.

But Marquis has indicated he is keen to extend his deal and Blues boss Guy Whittingham is eager to keep him for longer, even though Ryan Bird has now returned from his loan spell at non-league neighbours Hawks.

Whittingham said: ‘We would like keep John, and John wants to stay.

‘We can afford to get John back without having to send anybody out on loan ourselves.

‘We are trying to have that conversation with Millwall but some of their people are away in the USA at the moment.

‘I think he’s been excellent. He has got his chance and stayed in the side. He’s got two goals in four games so that’s a good return for a striker.

‘But I like the way he will chase things and run the channels.

‘He has got two good opportunities from closing down defenders.

‘Your team’s tempo comes from your front men working hard to close down the opposition.

‘He’s got two goals out of six or seven chances and that sharpness will get better with the more games he plays.

‘You can play in reserve games but it’s nothing like being in front of a few thousand when it really matters.’

Just as Ashley Harris was unable to break into the side, Bird has struggled to nail down a regular place under Lee Bradbury at Westleigh Park and has been recalled by Pompey.

Whittingham, however, has no problem with the Hawks, who have now taken two Pompey strikers on loan and have not been able to give either of them regular first-team football.

‘Ryan is back with us. We called him back as he wasn’t getting involved enough at Havant,’ said Whittingham.

‘There is no point in him staying there so he will be back in the squad.

‘I don’t think Lee would have taken him if he didn’t think he would be involved.

‘Things happen so I’m not criticising Lee. He has to pick the side he thinks will win. If our lads go there and don’t play well enough to stay in the side, then that’s fair enough.

‘I’m not going to force that decision. They’ll play if they are good enough.

‘Ryan missed a cup game, other players scored and he found himself out of the side. That’s the way it is.

‘He will be welcomed back into the group because he has a lot to offer.’

– STEVE WILSON