Cook doesn’t need goalkeeping lectures, but Pompey hunt goes on

Alex Bass, left, and Paul Jones. Picture: Joe Pepler

Alex Bass, left, and Paul Jones. Picture: Joe Pepler

David Nugent in action against Newport (IW) in 2007 Picture: Laura Holme

Pompey’s long-awaited Island return

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Paul Cook is wide awake to the necessity of recruiting a new Pompey goalkeeper.

Yet the long-standing position remains unfilled with 17 days until the League Two campaign kicks off.

So far, four keepers have been employed in five pre-season fixtures.

In addition, Paul Jones is nearing his comeback following injury, while Jamie Ashdown’s trial ended in rejection.

Other targets identified during the summer hunt could not be finalised, including Doncaster’s giant stopper Thorsten Stuckmann.

Cook and his staff have not been idle in their search, nor do they require convincing of the importance of a new recruit in that area of the squad.

However, the solution continues to elude during an otherwise busy pre-season of recruitment by Pompey’s manager.

The latest audition piece was performed by Chris Konopka, handed the friendly at Salisbury to demonstrate his talents.

At 6ft 5in he fulfils Cook’s criteria of height and physique, while his age of 31 ticks the box of experience.

Unfortunately, he was a member of a Pompey side which once again demonstrated its weakness from set-pieces during a 2-2 draw at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium.

The first arrived via Justin Bennett’s free header from eight-yards out after a corner was delivered from the right.

The second was another corner, headed back from the far post where the unmarked Eddie Perrett was allowed to plant a header from six-yards out.

Both instances represented poor marking rather than genuine goalkeeping errors, nonetheless the stigma was there for the debutant.

Konopka, who in recent weeks has trained with Rotherham United, has never appeared in the Football League.

However, the American keeper did win the League of Ireland with Bohemians in 2008 and featured in the MLS for New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union and Toronto.

He also spent the final few months of last season with Ross County in the Scottish Premiership, without making an appearance.

Of the other triallists to have ventured to Fratton Park during the summer, free agent Eric Grimes was regarded as too small, while Ipswich’s preference for Michael Crowe to be handed a number one spot ended that line of enquiry.

There is, of course, Alex Bass, highly-regarded by Cook and graduating from the Academy, making two appearances so far in pre-season.

However, Pompey have identified the Hedge End youngster for a loan spell to aid his encouraging development.

As for Jones, Cook has observed him for a year at the Blues and is aware of his abilities and character.

That would be no leap into the unknown or gamble.

Otherwise time is running out for a new keeping recruit.

– NEIL ALLEN

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