Appleton voices Pompey squad size concerns

Pompey boss Michael Appleton. Picture: Robin Jones
Pompey boss Michael Appleton. Picture: Robin Jones
Theo Widdrington. Picture: Sarah Standing (170841-4476)

Pompey midfielder out to turn Jackett’s head

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Michael Appleton has warned Pompey will head into August without a single player in their squad unless there is Football League intervention.

That is the latest battle ahead of the beleaguered Blues boss – regardless of the club obtaining its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) on Monday.

As it stands, he has just 10 senior players at his disposal – all of which have been put up for sale in a bid to drive down the club’s wage bill.

It is essential they are removed in order for either Portpin or the Pompey Supporters’ Trust to complete the takeover required to secure Pompey’s future.

In the meantime, Appleton is in the dark over when the Football League will allow him to start recruiting.

Pompey are set to approach league chiefs this week for clarification following their success in securing a CVA on Monday – a massive step towards emerging from administration.

The existing squad return to the club at the end of next week for the start of pre-season.

And Appleton fears he could be left with no players approaching the campaign’s kick off against Plymouth in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday, August 14.

He said: ‘Getting the CVA was fantastic news.

‘It gave us all a lift and it looks like the club is going to be okay.

‘From my point of view, though, looking ahead I literally will have no players in the first week of August.

‘In fact, at this stage I have can see us having no players to fulfil the fixtures.

‘It all depends on what the Football League say and we intend to speak to them as soon as possible.

‘I need to know what I can and cannot do – I need clarity.

‘At the moment we have 10 senior players on our books.

‘We go to Spain on July 16 and might have five or six senior players in the building – the rest of the squad would have to be made up of youth-team players.

‘By the time we get back on July 26, I might well have a squad of just 12 youth-team players.

‘I have got to get my head around it.

‘I need to have as many conversations with the Football League as possible to see where we stand.

‘They might be a lot more comfortable from their point of view following the CVA.

‘One thing is for sure, it is going to be difficult to try to get a team together two weeks before the start of the season.’

The current squad comprises of David Norris, Aaron Mokoena, Dave Kitson, Kanu, Tal Ben Haim, Luke Varney, Greg Halford, Erik Huseklepp, Liam Lawrence and Hayden Mullins.

Those 10 will be bolstered by the likes of Sam Magri, Ashley Harris and Adam Webster.

But Appleton knows he needs plenty more bodies.

He added: ‘The bottom line is we have to be realistic.

‘If we can get a squad together in time and are able to be competitive that would be a massive, massive achievement. Then we can go on from there.

‘The problem is I might get a week to do that before the season starts, which is obviously nowhere near enough time.’