Appy waiting on green light to begin his Blues rebuild

The Pompey triallists are being given plenty of time to convince boss Michael Appleton they deserve to be part of his plans for League One next season

The Pompey triallists are being given plenty of time to convince boss Michael Appleton they deserve to be part of his plans for League One next season

The Pompey players celebrate winning the League Two title on the final day of the 2016-17 season following their 6-1 win against Cheltenham Picture: Joe Pepler

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Michael Appleton is already eyeing taking at least six of his pre-season triallists on a permanent basis.

And the Blues boss is adamant there are five other free agents also patiently waiting at home to join his Pompey rebuilding programme.

More than half the 18-man squad at the Spanish training camp consists of triallists.

Izale McLeod, Lloyd Sam, Luke Rodgers, Sam Eastwood, Simon Gillett, Jon Harley, Mustapha Dumbuya and Brian Howard were all present on the first day.

They have since been joined by Frenchman Julien Lopez and former Barnsley keeper David Preece.

Greek defender Sotoris Balafas is also expected to join the party, having been delayed by food poisoning.

All will come into the reckoning for the opening friendly of the tour in Gibraltar tomorrow night.

It remains too early for Appleton to decide just who will be part of his long-term Fratton Park plans, although he certainly has an inkling.

A number of targets also remain in England, as Pompey continue to pace the room in anticipation of being given the Football League green light to make signings.

In the meantime, the Blues boss will keep running the rule over the triallists who are likely to form the backbone of his League One squad.

He said: ‘It’s a massive commitment from the triallists out here and a risk on their part.

‘If they get injured, that is the chance they are taking.

‘It is testament to the football club because they want to take a risk with us in coming and trialling and having a go to see whether they like it.

‘If they show the commitment we expect over the next 10 days, hopefully some of them can sign contracts.

‘It is fair enough to say I have been speaking to quite a few of them regularly over the summer.

‘If I can get five or six of that original eight on board for the start of the season – or hopefully very quickly – then I will be delighted.

‘These are players who have been in the Championship, some of them in the Premier League, so there is a vast amount of experience in there.

‘Without a shadow of a doubt there are quality free agents out there.

‘There are going to be people free right to the last minute because they are wanting too much money and all of a sudden might panic a little bit and see the best of what’s out there.

‘I don’t think we will be in the transfer market right until the end of the window, just because of the position we are in.

‘Because the football club is as it stands right now, we can’t do anything with any of the players.

‘But I am hoping and praying within the next few days we can start signing players.

‘It’s one thing getting rid of the players on the wage bill at the minute, it’s another replacing them.’

Appleton is continuing to keep open the line of communication with his other targets not present in southern Spain.

Clearly a queue of interested players is now forming in anticipation of the Football League eking open the doors.

And for Pompey’s manager, it is a case of ensuring such players remain tempted to join the club.

He added: ‘There are other players I have identified who are not even here. Lots.

‘I worry about it every day because I am trying to get them in a frame of mind not to panic and to wait and be patient.

‘But I have probably been saying that for about a month.

‘They just need to be a little more patient and stick with it.

‘Even two or three weeks down the line they still have lots and lots of options and that is the message I am trying to give to them.

‘Just because they are not here doesn’t mean they won’t come at all.

‘I still speak to at least five players regularly who are not here and I still think we will be able to sign.’

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