Michael Appleton is facing tomorrow’s season curtain-raiser at Plymouth without any senior players.
Appleton looks set to be left frustrated in his efforts to recruit as the wait for the club to exit administration drags on.
The Pompey boss still can’t bring in players with Portpin yet to assume control.
And now Balram Chainrai is threatening to walk away over a fees dispute with administrators PKF.
Birch is receiving support in sections of the club over that, with the belief his motivations are the right ones for Pompey moving forward.
And there are growing concerns over Chainrai’s motives, with no preparatory work undertaken prior to his potential return.
Meanwhile, The News understands Portpin have slashed their playing budget from a long-standing £4m to £1.5m in the past week.
The new sum is dwarfed by the £2.65m offered by Pompey Supporters’ Trust, as they continue their fight to offer their side a stable future.
The ongoing saga has now hamstrung Appleton’s bid to put a team together – before today’s midday registration deadline – for the Capital One Cup trip to Home Park.
However, he can still sign players on loan up to three hours before the game kicks off at 7.45pm.
Pompey coach Guy Whittingham admitted the frustrations were being felt in the Fratton Park camp at the ‘crazy’ scenario.
Whittingham said: ‘It’s crazy but it’s been crazy all summer.
‘We hear and read things in the paper like anyone.
‘We probably hear as much as the manager when he is informed and we are waiting to find out.
‘Hopefully by lunchtime [today] things might be done.
‘We know what Portsmouth is like, though.
‘You hear things but we will not believe it until it is actually done.
‘It’s not good preparation for anybody, especially the manager.
‘He’s trying to get his first team sorted.
‘The team at Salisbury are the players at the club at the moment.
‘No-one else is signed, so I suppose they could be the players for Plymouth. We all feel the frustrations – everyone connected with the club.
‘It’s not been a nice time for anybody – the players, fans or staff.
‘There are people owed money but I’m sure we will get through it.’
Pompey still have a host of triallists at the club who are waiting to put pen to paper on contracts.
On top of that, there are players training at other clubs still willing to arrive – if the green light is given.
How much longer that will be the case remains to be seen.
But Whittingham believes the backroom staff deserve praise for keeping the deals boiling.
He said: ‘It’s a credit to the manager, Luke Dowling [head of recruitment] and to Ashley Westwood that the players are still waiting.’