Appleton insists Pompey under no pressure to sell

Liam Lawrence has been linked with a move in January
Liam Lawrence has been linked with a move in January
Milan Lalkovic celebrates his goal at Newport. Picture: Neil Marshall

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Michael Appleton has insisted he is under no pressure to stage a January firesale.

Pompey’s financial woes will continue to deepen the longer it takes for them to find a new owner.

It’s a worrying scenario which could impact on the club once the transfer window reopens on New Year’s Day.

The likes of Luke Varney and Liam Lawrence have already been the subject of rumours linking them with moves away from Fratton Park.

Last January, John Utaka and Matt Ritchie left the club.

And in the preceeding window – when Pompey were previously in financial turmoil – the likes of David Nugent, Hayden Mullins and Michael Brown were also earmarked for departures in a bid to raise cash. Those players refused to leave.

Then-manager Steve Cotterill described it as one of the blackest periods in his managerial career.

Now the window is poised to open once again.

Yet despite the Blues being hit with more financial woes after owners Convers Sports Initiatives went into administration, Appleton is adamant he has not been instructed to sell off any of his players.

And while he admits every player has his price, the Pompey manager is confident any sales will be carried out under his own instructions rather than those above him.

Appleton said: ‘I am under no pressure whatsoever to sell players.

‘If people want to buy our players then I expect them to ring me first before anyone else.

‘Hopefully, I will be the first to know about it.

‘What I would say which is important is that I have no interest in selling my better players.

‘If people are thinking of trying it, forget it.

‘I’m not daft enough to turn down ridiculous amounts of money.

‘If people come up with serious offers – and it would have to be serious offers – I might look at it again.

‘But the point I’m making is you won’t get any of our players on the cheap.’

Appleton is well aware he needs to strengthen rather than sell during January.

As it stands, his first-team squad consists of just 20 players.

That includes loanee Joe Mattock and 18-year-old Ryan Williams.

Pompey’s boss cannot afford his options to be weakened next month.

Appleton added: ‘The size of the squad is a worry.

‘If we pick up a couple of injuries then it does come right down to the bare bones.

‘We actually have been quite lucky, really, in terms of injuries and suspensions.

‘I am aware of that. It is probably one of my biggest worries, actually.

‘What I worry about more than anything is making sure the players are fit and available.

‘If you start racking up a few suspensions and injuries, you really are getting to the bare bones of your squad.’