Pieces just won't come together for Cotterill

Samantha Quayle. Picture: Jordan Hampton

Flying start for Pompey with Cardiff swept aside

Steve Cotterill knows what it takes to complete the jigsaw.

But, at the moment, half the pieces are missing.

Some others were in place but have fallen off the table and are currently out of the Pompey boss' reach.

And Cotterill isn't getting his hopes up about too many extra pairs of hands to help him solve the puzzle.

The 46-year-old has made it clear in today's News the budget he has to work with in the January window is limited.

There's the 200,000 rising to 250,000 for the sale of Matt Ritchie to Swindon.

But Balram Chainrai, unsurprisingly, isn't releasing significant money as he looks to sell the club.

Cotterill will instead try to utilise the two loan spaces he has available.

At the moment, though, where does he turn?

The Richard Hughes/Michael Brown contract saga rumbles on, leaving him hamstrung when looking to make moves.

A defender, wideman and striker would all be on his radar.

The window has been open for five days now, though, and he still doesn't know where he stands.

Cotterill said: 'We have two loans available.

'The trouble is now I don't quite know what positions I want out of those loans.

'Because of Michael's and Richard's situations, I don't know.

'Do I need two more central midfield players or do I supplement other areas?

'Maybe I'd like to get another forward.

'I still actually think we need defenders because wherever we've played them they've not been able to do what we want them to do.

'I think we still need two defenders but then we'll end up with a real lop-sided squad.

'If I was starting again that's where I want to be but we're not. It's a muddle.

'If I had Hughes and Brown I could change my attentions to possibly another wide player and a striker.

'We can't get to a situation where recently Dave Kitson had scored one goal in nine games and it was evident his confidence was struggling.

'I could have parked him for four games and he could have got his confidence back.

'It's not an ideal situation but there is only so much I can do.

'It's difficult to persuade a player to not take a contract when another game kicks in.

'It's difficult for me to say to them "do us a favour". It doesn't happen.

'It's written into their contract and that's what it says.

'There is no problem with that. If I had money I could sort it pretty quickly. That is always the problem.'

With Hughes and Brown out of the equation against Hull on Monday, Cotterill was forced into a now familiar reshuffle.

Liam Lawrence played centrally with David Nugent operating out wide.

It's the kind of problem which is far from ideal but something the Pompey boss is now well accustomed.

Cotterill believes supporters are wise enough to see the obstacles he faces and is as determined as ever to overcome.

He said: 'We're back to where we are when we were at Derby. It's back to where we were when we were shuffling the fit ones in and making changes galore.

'We use squad rotation – the right-winger goes to right-back, the right-back goes to right-side centre-half and the right-side centre-half goes left-side – and so on and so on. That's our squad rotation!

'That's it. Then you come up against good teams in the Championship and you can't do it. You can't take it for granted.

'If we had the 11 here who were starting in the Premier League on a regular basis, we'd be in the top six.

'I can be bold enough to make that statement but we haven't got the starters.

'Michael Brown is the only one really. Even Mokoena didn't come in until later. So we have two starters instead of 11.

'But the Portsmouth supporters know that and they are the most important ones to me.

'Trying to turn this around will take a long time but that's what we have got to do. I want to do well here.

'I'm passionate, enthusiastic and a winner.'