Danny Cowley says Miguel Azeez has fought his way into the Portsmouth team, and the youngster has what he needs to have a great career.
19-year-old Arsenal loanee Miguel Azeez took a while to break into the Portsmouth team under Danny Cowley, and just over a month ago there were even suggestions he might be recalled in January.
Cowley himself always seemed confident that the loan was going well, however, and that Arsenal were happy with Azeez’s progress.
The manager’s words seem to be bearing fruit, as Azeez has since made it into the starting lineup, and he provided an assist in Portsmouth’s most recent win over Morecambe FC. He also got his first goal for the club last month.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Cowley assessed the midfielder’s situation, insisting it’s a learning experience for him.
“For Miguel, it’s his first loan,” Cowley said. “He is gaining experience by the day and it’s been a brilliant stepping stone for him in his education.
“This is what young players need. They need to be exposed to first-team football.
“A lot of these elite young players have only known success after success because they were often the best players in their youth careers and in age-group football.
“It’s great for them to come out on loan into senior football for the first time where they don’t always get it all their own way. It develops their coping strategies and their resilience to go on and really push on in their careers.”
Azeez needed to show some patience this season, but Cowley believes he’s now earned his spot in the side, and that he has the capacity for a big future.
“His technical ability and his athleticism will give him every opportunity to have a great career,” Cowley continued.
“He’s done really, really well. He’s another one who is incredibly driven, with an outstanding level of focus and he’s a student of the game.
“He always wants to learn, develop and improve. He’s fought his way into the team, and good on him.”
If Azeez comes away from this experience with a greater understanding of the importance of being patient, of working to get your chance, and of taking it when it comes, it will arguably be more of a boost to his career than just playing lots of games.
He’ll have to do the same thing at Arsenal eventually, so Cowley may well be giving him the perfect preparation for that future battle.