Birch frustration at slow Fratton firesale

Joel Ward could be the next player to leave Fratton Park
Joel Ward could be the next player to leave Fratton Park
Adam May battles for the ball against Cardiff City. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey midfielder hungry for more first-team action

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Trevor Birch has revealed his frustration as he seeks to drive on Pompey’s firesale.

Jason Pearce is the only player so far to depart Fratton Park following last week’s bargain £500,000 switch to Leeds.

His move does little to assist in wrestling under control a £10.5m wage bill in preparation for life in League One next season.

With Hayden Mullins, Liam Lawrence and Erik Huseklepp expected back following their loan spells, permanent Pompey exits are desperately required by the administration.

As it stands, there remains interest in Joel Ward, Greg Halford, Luke Varney, David Norris and Huseklepp.

For Birch, though, such transfers have still to be pushed through.

And he is desperate to quicken up the process as he seeks to bring in vital revenue and drive down wages towards the £5m mark.

He said: ‘It can be frustrating because there continues to be interest in our players.

‘The problem is these sort of things can take longer than you think and time is not what we have.

‘Someone like Joel Ward will, I think, be the next one to go. There are two or three Championship clubs interested in him.

‘Things aren’t going that quickly, though, and it becomes a bit difficult.

‘There are two or three other players also being looked at by clubs so the interest is there, without a question.

‘People like Erik Huseklepp, Greg Halford, Luke Varney, David Norris, there are a few of them who could be sold and we are looking to go down that route.

‘With others, we are waiting to see if they are going to attract interest.

‘At this stage we are not looking at mutually agreeing to cancel contracts as we want to wait and see who comes in for them.

‘We are doing everything we can but, as I’ve said often enough, it is all going to be very tight.’

In the meantime, Birch is targeting completing an ownership deal before the Football League’s annual meeting on May 31 and June 1.

Irrespective of who takes over Pompey, the wage bill will need to be slashed considerably.

In addition, a registration embargo remains in place while the club continue to be in administration and without a finalised CVA.

And Birch has been in constant touch with league chiefs to explore ways of taking the club forwards.

He added: ‘We have discussions with the Football League this week and will see where we are with that.

‘We are talking to them all the time about deadlines and time frames and what is acceptable to them.

‘I have spoken to them every week since coming into the club. In reality we need to have some clarity, as do they.

‘We have got three weeks to do something.’