Miguel Azeez is still struggling to make his breakthrough into the Portsmouth team on loan, weeks after recovering from a minor injury.
At first, Miguel Azeez’s gradual integration into the Portsmouth team appeared to be standard procedure for a loan move.
He was absent from their first matchday squad, made the bench for the second game, then started in the third, playing 59 minutes.
But rather than progressing from there, the loan has pretty much come to a halt.
Initially, Azeez dropped back to the bench for a couple of games. Then he picked up a minor injury, but he recovered in time to provide a goal and an assist for the England u20s over the international break.
Returning from that break, Azeez might have hoped to get a game.
Instead, he’s watched on from the bench for four straight matches. He’s been fully fit, he’s made the squad on each occasion, but he hasn’t played a minute on the pitch.
It’s worth mentioning we’re still only a couple of months into the loan, and different managers have different demands on players.
Cowley claimed recently that he didn’t want to introduced Azeez while the team was “not in a good moment”, arguing: “He’s only 19, we are trying to set a young player up for success and we are not in a good enough moment to bring him into the team.
“I couldn’t bring him on against Ipswich, not at that time, not in this game. It would have been very, very difficult to come into the team in that moment. Very, very difficult.
“He’s a young player finding his way in the game, so it’s your job as a manager to set him up to have success.
“The team are playing with no rhythm and no control – and he’s a player that needs rhythm and control. We didn’t have it on Tuesday night.”
On that front, perhaps a draw and a win in Portsmouth’s last couple of games may help to change Azeez’s situation. But Cowley is running out of time now.
The Portsmouth boss has two months to show he has a plan for Azeez and to stop Arsenal activating their recall clause in January.
It’s not Arsenal’s problem is Portsmouth are struggling so badly that they can’t risk introducing Azeez. The club will just look for another team playing well and willing to give him minutes.