Ex-Portsmouth favourite Gary O’Neil delivers verdict on Marlon Pack’s Cardiff exit and potential Fratton Park homecoming amid interest from Bristol City and Shrewsbury
The former Blues favourite believes the 31-year-old would bring guaranteed Championship quality to a side with ambitions of returning to the second tier of English football.
And he assured any doubters over the midfielder’s age that the Cardiff man still had plenty of ‘good years ahead of him’.
Pompey are in direct competition with fellow former employers Bristol City, Shrewsbury and two other unnamed clubs.
However, reports emerged over the weekend that the Robins’ pursuit of Pack looked ‘highly unlikely to be successful’.
That leaves the Blues well-positioned to bring the Buckland-born ace home following his 2011 departure.
And according to O’Neil – who played alongside the in-demand midfielder for two seasons at Ashton Gate – it’s a potential move that would prove hugely beneficial to Cowley as he plots a route back to the Championship
The Bournemouth coach told The News: ‘I think it would be a very good signing for the club.
‘I saw Marlon play last year against us at AFC Bournemouth and he’s still a very good player and at a very good level.
‘So if Pompey can add someone of Marlon’s quality then I’m sure it would be a very big benefit to the club.
‘He’s a great lad ,as well because you know what you’re going to get from him attitude and application-wise.
‘He’s a good lad to have around and I think it would be a really good addition if the club can pull it off.
‘Whenever I watched him play last year in the Championship, he was by no means out of his depth and still a very good footballer.
‘Being 31 years old is no age at all. He’s still mobile enough and has good legs.
‘He’s an incredible player, he’s good on the ball which means he’s not reliant on his athleticism and never really has been.
‘I’m sure he’s got plenty of good years still ahead of him.’
Pack come through the youth system at Fratton Park, making two senior appearances for the club before his 2011 exit to Cheltenham.
That’s some way short of the 192 outings O’Neil enjoyed at Pompey after he, too, graduated from the age-groups.
Regardless, the former Middlesbrough and West Ham ace knows all too well how ‘special’ the Blues remains to its former players and academy graduates.
And he’s certain Pack fells the same despite his exit more than 11 years ago.
O’Neil added: ‘I haven’t spoken to Marlon for a little while since we played Cardiff last season, but I know he loved his time at Pompey and I would think he would be very keen on a move back to a very special club.
‘He came through the youth system, as did I, and it does stick with you – so I’m sure he’d be as keen as the club would be.’