Cotterill left ruing more obstacles

Pompey's Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

Evans: Player talk has lifted Pompey form

Steve Cotterill revealed the depths of his selection problems with the contractual problems surrounding both Richard Hughes and Michael Brown.

Both midfielders can be named in just one more matchday squad before an automatic contract extension is triggered for a salary that cash-strapped Pompey simply cannot afford.

And that has left the manager in an unenviable position of being unable to select two important players – with his squad already stretched to breaking point.

With Hughes fit but left out of the squad for the 2-0 win at Norwich on Saturday, Cotterill reluctantly explained: 'Sooner or later, people are going to know.

'At the end of the day, there is a clause in Richard's contract that if he makes more than one more appearance for us, a new contract kicks in on pretty much the same wages that he's earning.

'We haven't been able to bridge that gap in a negotiation because there will obviously be a significant drop in wages for Richard.

'I feel as though him and his agent are not prepared to take that and it's a big drop.

'It's tough not having him but unfortunately, it's the situation that I've inherited.'

To make matters worse, Cotterill also has the same problem on the horizon with Brown, who after playing in Saturday's match is now in a similar situation as fellow central-midfielder Hughes.

Cotterill added: 'The worst thing about it is that we will have another one in Michael Brown.

'He is now one game away as well and a named substitute would have counted as an appearance for either of them.

'I'm going to need Richard in the coming weeks because Michael will be in the same situation.

'They have got one appearance left each and I don't want to use them up as substitutes because I need them as starts because of the size of the squad we've got.

'It's poor, really, but that's where I am.'

Cotterill could find himself struggling to field a side over the busy Christmas period but has vowed to make the best of the situation that is yet another glimpse into the mismanagement that went on at Fratton Park in recent years.

The Blues boss said: 'I don't do the contracts and I don't dish out how much money goes to who and where.

'Anybody at Portsmouth Football Club will know that it's not been an easy situation from the minute I walked through the door.

'But we will try to make a fist of it as much as we possibly can.'