Pompey have written off the hope of new faces arriving before tomorrow’s Championship curtain-raiser at Middlesbrough.
But Steve Cotterill still wants five players in before the close of the transfer window at the end of the month.
And one of those men could be veteran Christian Dailly, who is training with the squad as they gear up for their opener at the Riverside.
The 37-year-old has linked up with Pompey after failing to agree a new deal at Charlton, for whom he played 39 times last season.
Blues boss Cotterill admits he may have to look at short-term options, with it clear he is still short on numbers.
He wants to boost his squad from 15 to 20 senior pros come August 31 – but is expecting to go in to battle tomorrow with what he has.
Cotterill said: ‘I’m sure we’ll strengthen. As and when I don’t know the answer to that.
‘I’m not so sure there will be anybody in before Middlesbrough. I’m not so sure about that.
‘I’m banking on not having anybody before the Middlesbrough game.
‘We’ve added to what we have. We’ve had five come in. We probably need another five.
‘If I had a squad of 20 I’d be cock-a-hoop, so would everyone else at Portsmouth Football Club. But we are into the monetary stakes now and that makes it more difficult.
‘There are some free transfers out there but some of them are on huge wages.
‘People may think “why don’t we get this one?”. Well, there may be five or six other clubs out there offering them big contracts. They will be offering more than we can offer.
‘But there might have to be a couple of short-term things we have to do to thicken us up immediately.’
Dailly is a free agent after failing to agree a new deal with Charlton, where he was a key part of their set-up last season.
The Scotland international made 88 appearances in two campaigns at The Valley, where he proved to be an influential figure.
Cotterill was remaining coy on interest in Burnley’s Martin Paterson, after Pompey had a £2.5m bid knocked back for the Clarets man.
He insists he is now looking to the Boro clash tomorrow, with striker Dave Kitson a doubt for the trip after picking up a thigh injury in the club’s American training camp.
Cotterill said: ‘I don’t know why anyone has said anything about it (the Paterson bid) now.
‘That one seems to have had a fair bit of airing but we aren’t going to put that out there. Whoever has put that out it’s their prerogative.
‘At this moment we have a decent 11 or 12 players. We saw last season we will not get away with that. We will not get away with it.
‘They all look in good shape, though. As regards to that we are really pleased.
‘We have one hiccup but if they said we were going to get to the end of pre-season and were going to have just one who wasn’t going to play at the start, maybe I’d have swallowed that.
‘I’m not happy about it but that is probably where we are going to be come the game.’