Appy plans to nuture links with Premier big guns

Karim Rekik in action against Hull on Tuesday night Picture: Barry Zee
Karim Rekik in action against Hull on Tuesday night Picture: Barry Zee
Jack Whatmough models Pompey's new away kit in the club's promotional poster

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Michael Appleton feels his contacts at Premier League heavyweights Manchester City can reap rich rewards for Pompey.

The Blues boss has friends in high places at the title-chasers and used his acquaintances to sign talented youngsters Luca Scapuzzi and Karim Rekik on loan recently.

Appleton knows City’s senior recruitment officer Christian Lattanzio from his West Brom days and is also friendly with assistant boss Brian Kidd – a former Pompey assistant manager – from their time together at Manchester United.

Mega-rich City have a wealth of talent on their books and are set to challenge for top honours for the next few years.

And Appleton is keen for Pompey to nurture links with Roberto Mancini’s side in a bid to attract more quality young players to Fratton Park in the seasons to come.

Appleton said: ‘A lot of the game is about having those contacts.

‘Stuart (Gray) knows City coach David Platt well, I know Brian Kidd very well and I also know Christian Lattanzio, who is Roberto’s right-hand man in terms of recruitment. He worked with Fabio Capello at England as well.

‘I worked with Christian at West Brom when I was a youth team coach and we’ve stayed in touch since.

‘He’s worked at West Ham, England and now Manchester City.

‘We’ve got a good relationship with Manchester City and we’re aware of the talents that they have got. Hopefully, that can continue in the future.

‘But you are seeing the type of character and player we want at the club.’

Another City loanee, Abdul Razak, had his spell at Pompey cut short after just one start in three appearances earlier this season before Appleton’s arrival at the club.

But the Blues boss insists it was not down to a lack of opportunities that the 19-year-old was recalled. And he has no qualms about biding his time to give Scapuzzi his chance after Rekik made an impressive debut in midweek.

Appleton said: ‘We had Razak earlier in the season before I was here but I knew about him.

‘I think Razak was recalled for a League Cup game and a European game and City felt they needed to bring him back at the time.

‘There’s no issue with City over how much their players play.

‘The first game, they (Rekik and Scapuzzi) didn’t even have a training session with us.

‘They met us at the hotel on the Friday evening and we had a conversation to tell them a bit about the club, where it was at and the difficulties we’ve had.

‘They had to appreciate that it wasn’t a normal scenario. It was a long conversation and we were late for dinner!

’But Luca got his cameo appearance against Coventry and he was a bit unfortunate the other night because we did ever so well and dominated.

‘When you have a team that dominates, the players don’t want to come off when they are all playing well.

‘Karim comes with great attributes, adds that balance and has a bright future.’