Cotterill eager for more central defensive recruits

Blackpool's Ian Evatt is wanted by Pompey
Blackpool's Ian Evatt is wanted by Pompey
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One in, one on his way and another linked.

It appears central defenders are dominating Steve Cotterill’s summer recruitment plans at present.

First, Jason Pearce left Bournemouth to join Ricardo Rocha, Aaron Mokoena and Tal Ben-Haim on Pompey’s books.

They will soon also be in the company of Greg Halford as his welcome switch from Wolves draws ever closer.

Meanwhile, Ian Evatt is a name which has emerged during the past few days as a £1m target from Blackpool.

Speculation that may be but there is genuine interest from the Blues, even if they are not publicly admitting it.

Conceivably, Cotterill could have six central defenders on his books heading into his second Fratton Park season.

For the Blues boss, it is a position he has identified in need of urgent strengthening.

That is despite the Rocha/Halford partnership last season helping set Pompey’s post-war league record of 636 minutes without conceding a goal.

What’s more, Cotterill is eager for a sizeable pool of central-defensive resources to choose from.

And if that means more recruiting to be done after Halford signs, then so be it.

Cotterill said: ‘I would like more central defenders.

‘What you have got to look at is we conceded goals last season and I think there are certain types of defenders who fit this league and can do well in it.

‘I always think you can start off getting your central-defensive partnership right.

‘Just because I had people here last year it doesn’t mean to say they will always be playing centre-half this year.

‘What we have now is competition, as opposed to one central defender going down and a full-back having to go in there or someone else.

‘It could up end being, depending on form or availability, a totally different back four.

‘There will be some defenders for now and others for the future.

‘Halford is 26, Pearce is 23, while Evatt, who has been suggested by the papers, is 29. They are all younger than the other two lads I have got (Rocha and Mokoena).

‘There has to be a bit of future building here as well. That is what that is about.

‘What I can’t afford to do is have an ageing team, which is what I had at the beginning of last season.

‘Without any short term, there is no long-term plan so if we can get in somebody for the short term who is young, too, so be it.

‘And it will be nice to have competition.’

There have been plenty of names linked with a Fratton Park switch this summer.

The latest is Evatt, who is contracted to Blackpool for another 12 months.

The 29-year-old was an ever-present for Ian Holloway’s men during their Premier League campaign and was named the supporters’ player of the season.

Cotterill, however, has declined to comment on the recent speculation.

He added: ‘I think every man and his dog have been linked with Pompey.

‘For all the players we have been linked with at the moment, not one of them have been dropped into any newspaper by ourselves.

‘There is absolutely no benefit for the buying club.

‘I haven’t read the papers this morning, but I will. I want to go and see who else I am going to sign next.’