Cook’s Pompey goalkeeping mission

Paul Jones is keen to reclaim his place in Pompeys starting XI Picture: Joe Pepler
Paul Jones is keen to reclaim his place in Pompeys starting XI Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Pompey have discovered five into number one doesn’t add up.

Now Paul Cook is in the process of identifying one worthy candidate to provide the Blues with a stable backbone.

And it will be one of his biggest challenges this summer as he seeks to transform the play-off qualifiers into automatic promotion certainties.

Pompey employed more first-team goalkeepers than any other League Two club last term, tallying five.

In addition, rookie Alex Bass was an unused substitute on 33 occasions, without making a senior appearance.

It is a lack of selection consistency noted by former Blues favourite David James in The News on Saturday, revealing his concerns over the situation.

Cook is well aware of the issue and in the process of finding a new goalkeeping arrival as he continues to fine-tune his squad.

Of last season’s number, only Paul Jones remains at Fratton Park.

Brian Murphy has been released, while Aaron McCarey, Ryan Fulton and Ryan Allsop returned to their parent clubs.

Bass also continues to be on the Blues’ books, having been handed a one-year deal after coming through the Academy ranks.

The 18-year-old is likely to be loaned out for experience during the forthcoming campaign, ensuring Cook will require at least one new face among his goalkeeping ranks.

Certainly those clubs which excelled last season did so relying on a stable goalkeeping environment.

Northampton, Oxford United and Accrington each used only two different keepers in their starting XI’s in all competitions.

In addition, Bristol Rovers used three, incidentally the same number employed by play-off winners AFC Wimbledon.

Stevenage actually named eight different keepers in their match-day squads during the campaign, six of which never made an appearance.

And Barnet’s haul of six includes two players who never started a fixture.

Over at Fratton Park, Jones played every game of the 2014-15 season, only to be overlooked at the start of last term by his new boss.

Instead summer recruit Murphy was given the nod and racked up 25 appearances, more than any of his rival keepers.

However, despite 11 clean sheets, the Irishman failed to convince the Fratton faithful and unsurprisingly was not offered a new deal.

Like the vast majority of the Blues’ keepers, however, Murphy’s involvement was hindered by injury problems, ruling him out for two sizeable periods.

Jones was another to suffer, damaging knee ligaments and then missing the play-off run in with a thigh problem during his 12 appearances.

McCarey made six appearances on loan from Wolves for a month, while Fulton’s stay from Liverpool ended nine games early through a calf problem.

Finally, Allsop was recruited on an emergency loan for the play-off semi-final against Plymouth.

Still, this summer Cook is in urgent need of a new keeper – and must then to decide who he trusts as Pompey’s number one.