Familiar faces could provide an answer

Pompey's Jack Whatmough heads at goal against Oxford United. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

Picture gallery: Oxford United 3 Pompey 0

The Pompey midfield SOS has gone out.

And two of the Blues' loan stars could be in the frame to answer it.

Contract wrangles and financial restraints are once again intruding on matters on the pitch.

Steve Cotterill finds himself robbed of two of his options in the Blues engine room for the near future.

Michael Brown and Richard Hughes are set to be eased into cold storage while moves are made to renegotiate their existing terms.

Being named in a match-day squad twice more for either will trigger contract extensions at wages the club insist they can no longer afford.

It has signalled a juggling act which will force boss Cotterill to name only one of them in forthcoming games against Scunthorpe and Millwall.

From the December 28 clash at Leeds onwards, the duo will not be able to feature at all until the situation has been rectified.

Meanwhile, versatile performer and possible midfield alternative Greg Halford finds himself suspended for this weekend's visit of Scunthorpe.

In addition, Liam Lawrence will miss the trip to Elland Road through the terms of his emergency loan.

A solution could be to recall two of Pompey's youngsters currently out on loan.

Marlon Pack and Matt Ritchie are playing regularly for Cheltenham and Swindon respectively.

Central midfielder Pack, who is on a season-long loan, has established himself in the Robins side after a difficult start.

Recently, he was crowned their player of the month for November by fans.

As for Ritchie, who can play in defence and midfield, his long-term Fratton Park future remains uncertain.

However, he has impressed at Swindon, where he has featured in every match during a loan spell which is set to expire next month.

Despite their age and being unproven at Championship level, they could be an option for Cotterill to call back and strengthen his threadbare squad.

Alternatively, joint-owner Balram Chainrai could give the green light and provide the funds for the Blues boss to recruit and bring in some much-needed faces.

As it stands, Cotterill has yet to meet the chairman face-to-face to discuss the subject.

For now, Pack and Ritchie could be viable alternatives to get Pompey out of a tough predicament.