Defenders in Appy’s sights on deadline day

Johnny Ertl and (no27) and Darel Russell in Pompey training yesterday   Picture: Allan Hutchings

Johnny Ertl and (no27) and Darel Russell in Pompey training yesterday Picture: Allan Hutchings

Paul Cook

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Michael Appleton will focus his deadline-day transfer hunt on defenders.

That’s after a frenetic period of activity which saw three players set to arrive at Fratton Park – and two leave the club.

A deal for Johnny Ertl has been confirmed while Darel Russell and Daniel Bogdanovic are lined up, with Sam Magri following Kieran Djilali out the door.

Magri has joined QPR, with Djilali moving on after failing to build on his fitness.

Both departures have allowed Appleton to recruit elsewhere. Now the Blues boss will look to add two further players at the back before tonight’s 11pm deadline.

He is shorn of defensive options for tomorrow’s clash with Oldham, making additions in that area key.

Appleton said: ‘We’re working under the 20-player ruling.

‘So with Kieran’s money and Sam’s money (freed up) that allows me to do something, whether that’s a permanent or a loan.

‘We need a centre-half with Kevin Long’s suspension and an injury to Paul Connolly.

‘We will have someone, maybe even two.

‘Who? I can’t say at the moment because we are spinning about four plates.

‘There are a couple who could be loans but there is one who could be permanent.

‘We’ve been aware of John Ertl for a while and he knows a couple of players from his Sheffield United days.

‘Darel has a lot of experience and he’ll bring that into a group who need it at this time.

‘He’s been training at Stevenage and played in games down there. He’s desperate to get going.

‘I’ve been aware of Daniel Bogdanovic’s situation for most of the summer. He was always someone on the list and in the back of my mind.

‘I had other players in mind who could do similar roles but it almost just fell into place.

‘Portsmouth is an attraction to them in terms of playing in front of the Fratton faithful every other week.

‘I think a lot of people have been talking about the opening day of the season and the excitement of playing in front of a near-full house.’

Magri’s exit sees the Fratton defender end his association with his hometown club, while Djilali leaves after a month at Fratton Park.

Appleton said: ‘We’ve mutually agreed to release Kieran for all sorts of reasons.

‘He picked up a lot of niggly injuries in his time here.

‘We felt we had to work on certain areas in our squad and strengthen there. Sam is in the last year of his contract and he has been given an opportunity to go to a Premier League club.

‘I wish Sam all the best but the harsh reality is I didn’t see him getting anywhere near my team this season.’

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