Clock ticking on Paul Cook’s bid to reduce Pompey squad

Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
Milan Lalkovic. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey winger out until the new year

  • Pompey’s current first-team squad numbers 28, including loans in and out of Fratton Park
  • The loan spells of Stockley, McNulty, Lavery and Clarke all expire in January
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Paul Cook has until 5pm to reduce the strain on his congested Pompey dressing room.

The emergency loan window closes later today, prompting what is expected to be a late flurry among those clubs outside the Premier League.

We are a club which is a good club, have great support, our infrastructure is there for everyone to see, we must just reduce our numbers so when we do bring people in they make us better

Paul Cook

At Fratton Park, the first-team squad presently numbers 28 – a figure the Blues boss is keen to reduce.

That consists of Kal Naismith and James Dunne, who are presently on loan at Hartlepool and Dagenham & Redbridge respectively.

Meanwhile, Marc McNulty, Matt Clarke, Jayden Stockley and Caolan Lavery are the loanees whose presence will be re-evaluated in January.

In addition, Jack Whatmough, Paul Jones, Gary Roberts and Michael Poke are on their way back from injuries over varying timescales.

Regardless, Cook is desperate to whittle down his squad – and time is ticking.

He said: ‘I have said for a bit now but I don’t mind our numbers coming down.

‘I want us to have belief in the players we have got and not more people clamouring for change.

‘We’ve had that for two-and-a-half years, perhaps someone should list the contracted players we’ve had at Portsmouth Football Club over that time.

‘If we keep doing that over the next two-and-a-half years we won’t end up with a happy house. Sometimes the numbers need to be reduced because when you have got quantity you can end up chopping and changing and giving other lads games and trying this and that.

‘I think it is important we concentrate on quality over quantity.

‘We are a club which is a good club, we have great support and our infrastructure is there for everyone to see.

‘We must just reduce our numbers, so when we do bring people in they make us better.

‘We have played 19 league games now, we are still a new team.

‘In the modern-day game it is short-term footballers, supporters aren’t going to be patient enough sometimes to let lads develop relationships and play games.

‘If you look at Adam McGurk, how many games has he played for us?

‘We are learning about each other, learning about the team, we must stay strong together.’

Adam Barton, Ben Close and Brandon Haunstrup have all struggled to make Cook’s first-team squad of late.

Although Barton was on the bench in place of Nigel Atangana for the 6-0 win over York City on Tuesday night.

Yet Cook is eager to field a settled side and has identified loaning players out.

The Pompey boss added: ‘In terms of continuity with team selection, we basically have gone back to the side beaten at Notts County.

‘We felt it was one of our better performances of the season.

‘We had a lot of opportunities in the game but succumbed to two set-pieces.

‘On Saturday we succumbed to two goals – a very debatable penalty and a 25-yard wonderful strike.

‘We believe continuity in what you are doing is important, not just for us but for the players on the pitch as well because you won’t build up relationships if you don’t play together.’