The huge Portsmouth challenge facing Danny Cowley should ex-Cardiff and Blackburn target Ronan Curtis secure Hibernian move

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Granted, his performances have struck a gradual decline during the last two frustrating seasons.

Nonetheless, peering into the gaping hole his exit would create, there is a crucial element which must be replicated by any newcomer.

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Curtis has weighed in with a staggering 50 goals during his four Fratton Park campaigns – averaging 12.5 every season.

All but two of those have arrived from open play, primarily while employed wide on the left, often supplied by cutting in on his favoured right foot.

For all the Irishman’s form issues and a sense of staleness about his latter time with Pompey, he has continued to plunder goals.

An honest professional, Curtis will not argue with those of us who assess 2021-22 as his most ineffective Blues seasons yet, few could.

Ronan Curtis celebrates another goal, this time against Gillingham in April. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages

There are, of course, crucial mitigating factors, such as being reinvented as a striker and the deployment of wing-backs which removes the necessity for wide men further up the pitch.

Regardless, an out-of-sorts Curtis still managed to register 10 goals last term – hitting double figures for a fourth straight season.

Irrespective of your thoughts on the 26-year-old as a player and a man, that is impressively consistent.

We are approaching a quarter of the way through the 21st Century – and no Pompey player has been as prolific. It deserves respect.

Marcus Harness’ goal output has blossomed since his Fratton Park arrival, while Jamal Lowe left for Wigan as a 17-goal top scorer.

However, Ryan Williams, a hard-working and talented player, was not blessed with the same instincts, totalling eight in two seasons.

Of course, a Curtis goal replacement may not be necessary should Danny Cowley revert to the back-three system which served him so well on occasions last season.

Instead he will crave versatile attacking players who can tuck in more infield, drifting inwards from the flanks, such as Michael Jacobs for example.

Whereas the Irishman was unquestionably at his most effective wide on the left with a full-back positioned behind him, forming a productive long-term partnership with Lee Brown.

A Curtis exit from Fratton Park this summer is the best for all parties, providing the money for Pompey to rebuild and offering a fresh challenge to a player whose career has stalled.

But the big issue for Cowley remains – replacing those 50 goals.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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