Cotterill reveals ‘hijack’ fears after losing target

Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
Alex Bass. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Steve Cotterill has revealed Pompey’s takeover wrangle has now cost him one of his transfer targets.

And he fears other deals could also be hijacked while the shackles remain on his recruitment drive.

The player, who the Blues boss refuses to name, has moved from the Championship to a Premier League club in the past week.

That is likely to be central defender Gareth McAuley, who left Ipswich for West Brom on a free transfer on Monday.

Cotterill insists talks had taken place with the unnamed player more than a month ago and that an agreement was within reach.

However, that approach fell through following Pompey’s decision to put all recruitment dealings on hold while takeover talks continue with Convers Sports Initiatives.

Undaunted, the Blues boss is spending his close season lining up players he wants to bring to Fratton Park.

He already has two waiting to arrive – one of whom is believed to be another out-of-contract Ipswich player, David Norris.

But Cotterill is concerned he may lose out again should the long-running takeover squabbles continue.

He said: ‘I had a meeting with a player yesterday and am meeting another one today.

‘I’m setting out my ambitions and trying to sell the club to them – but the situation we are in means I can’t actually sign them.

‘One of the players I had lined up has signed for a Premier League club from the Championship, which is disappointing.

‘I’m not naming him, that wouldn’t be right, but he would have been a good signing and would have come straight into our team.

‘We were very close to a deal a few weeks ago. There was a difference in our finances but we could have come to an agreement.

‘We weren’t that far away – 100 per cent he could have been ours.

‘There’s not a lot you can do about that and I just hope the takeover comes through very quickly and the new owners want to take the club forward.

‘That is the only one I have missed out on so far.

‘I am doing everything I can to get players ready to come to this football club.

‘Unfortunately, I cannot definitely say they will come and that someone won’t hijack it, which has happened already.’

Since the campaign ended, Cotterill has been scouting in Europe, as well as meeting with players and their agents.

And regardless of the current recruitment freeze at Pompey, he is continuing to seek recruits.

Cotterill said: ‘I went to Europe last week and saw a couple of players.

‘At this moment in time, though, I want to concentrate on free transfers.

‘They are the ones who are getting snapped up.

‘The list will only get shorter with each day that passes.’