'I thought he was going to Ipswich' - rival boss reveals Blues interest in right-back

Portsmouth's Mahlon Romeo (right) and Bolton Wanderers' Elias Kachunga (left) battle for the ball du

Portsmouth's Mahlon Romeo (right) and Bolton Wanderers' Elias Kachunga (left) battle for the ball during the Sky Bet League One match at Fratton Park, Portsmouth. Picture date: Saturday October 30, 2021. - Credit: PA

Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley has revealed that Ipswich Town were interested in signing Mahlon Romeo towards the end of the summer transfer window. 

The 26-year-old helped Millwall win promotion from League One in 2016/17 and went on make more than 100 Championship appearances for the Lions over the following three seasons.

It was a surprise, therefore, when he was allowed to join Pompey on a season-long loan on August deadline day. Since then he has proven to be one of the South Coast club's best performers.

"We didn’t anticipate Mahlon would become available to us," Cowley told the Portsmouth News, when asked if there was any chance a permanent deal could be struck for the 26-year-old when the January window opens.

"It wasn’t one we could predict, he became available right at the end of the window. It was too good an opportunity to turn down.

Millwall's Mahlon Romeo (left) and Queens Park Rangers' Ilias Chair battle for the ball during the S

Millwall's Mahlon Romeo (left) and Queens Park Rangers' Ilias Chair battle for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match at The Den, London. - Credit: PA

"I thought he was going to Ipswich and there was even Sunderland, but he wanted to stay down south. He became available and it was a great deal for us.

"It would be tough (to sign Romeo permanently), but we’d love to have him. It’s been a good loan for both of us."

Right-back was the only area of the team that Town boss Paul Cook didn't make a signing for during a hectic summer transfer window. Janoi Donacien and Kane Vincent-Young have been vying for that position, with Wes Burns having also been used there on occasion.

Strengthening the full-backs - players who are key to Cook's style of play - is not out of the question come the new year, with chief executive Mark Ashton having recently said 'we will be active in January'.

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On Romeo's form, Cowley added: "He’s been a machine, really good.

"He was short of games when he first arrived, but he soon got fitter, more athletic and powerful.

"We’re seeing, for me, one of the best right-backs in the Championship.

"Statistically, he’s got an incredible record of stopping crosses down his side of the pitch.

‘"Also offensively he gives us real attacking threat.

"He defends and attacks. Some of the modern-day full-backs just want to attack, but Mahlon defends and stops crosses."

Dan McNamara and Ryan Leonard are currently vying for the right-back or right wing-back role at Millwall, Gary Rowett's men currently sitting 10th in the second-tier table.

Romeo still has two-and-a-half years left on his contract at The Den.

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