Apprentice gunning to separate Pompey’s masterful strike force

John Marquis scored on his debut for Pompey, coming off the bench in the second half against York Picture: Joe Pepler
John Marquis scored on his debut for Pompey, coming off the bench in the second half against York Picture: Joe Pepler

David Connolly has been handing over prized training-ground pointers to John Marquis on how to enhance his striking game.

Now the youngster is eyeing dislodging Guy Whittingham’s favoured forward line following his goal-scoring Bootham Crescent entrance.

Heading into the Rochdale game, both Connolly and Patrick Agyemang are under threat from the Millwall man who’s intent on revelling in rare game time during his month’s loan.

Marquis netted 23 minutes into his Blues debut after coming off the bench to replace Agyemang at York on Saturday.

Turning in Jed Wallace’s cross from the left with a neat first-time finish at the near post, it was a late consolation in the humiliating 4-2 defeat.

Nonetheless, it provided an indication of the talents of the 21-year-old, who has five Championship goals for the Lions.

And with Whittingham vowing to make changes to his team for Rochdale’s forthcoming visit to Fratton Park, it puts Marquis in the frame to challenge player-coach Connolly and partner-in-crime Agyemang for a starting spot.

He said: ‘I’ve worked with Dave a little bit before – he came in and trained with Millwall last season for a while just to maintain his fitness.

‘He has obviously played at a very high level, is very experienced and has a lot to teach younger strikers like myself.

‘Pat came on loan to Millwall from QPR a couple of years ago, so I’ve come across both before and they are good strikers – but different strikers who complement each other.

‘I would say I’m in-between both – I can play with the ball at my feet and hold it up as well.

‘I feel I have a little bit of both of them in my game and I can learn more from them.

‘The Monday after the Fleetwood game, Dave took a training session which was good.

‘There was some possession and then he had the strikers doing a different finishing drill which I had never done before and was good. He does little things in training, pulling people aside and giving them pointers and different options.

‘What he sees might not always be right but it is a different option to look at because it will be right at some point.

‘Most importantly, he’s a player who is going to be available for Saturday – with the coaching side obviously the line he wants to go down when he is finished.’

Connolly remains Pompey’s top scorer with four goals this term – all struck before picking up a three-match ban against Chesterfield.

Agyemang has three to his name this season and between them the duo have fired in 14 goals in 17 starts as a partnership.

Marquis added: ‘Dave is probably the best player in this division.

‘He has scored some goals already and will only add to that.

‘You see some 36-year-olds get in the car and go home after training but he stays behind and still wants to improve. He obviously still has that drive to work hard and improve.’