Pompey boss hands parting challenge to Pearce

Jason Pearce is set to be the first of many to leave Pompey this summer   Picture: Barry Zee
Jason Pearce is set to be the first of many to leave Pompey this summer Picture: Barry Zee
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Michael Appleton told Jason Pearce: Seize your opportunity.

The Pompey boss has delivered a parting challenge to Pearce after he completed his transfer to Leeds.

Appleton believes the Blues captain deserves his switch to Neil Warnock’s side, after he sealed a £500,000 move to Elland Road.

Pearce has swapped the uncertainty of Pompey and the prospect of a League One campaign for an expected promotion push in the Championship with the Yorkshire club next season.

Appleton paid tribute to the former Fratton Park trainee and the qualities he brought to the equation in his second spell with the Blues.

After coming back to Pompey only last summer in a £300,000 deal from Bournemouth, Pearce enjoyed a fine campaign and quickly became a fans’ favourite with his full-blooded defending.

The 24-year-old cleaned up at the player-of-the-season awards.

Pearce collected seven of the nine available honours – including the prestigious The News/Sports Mail Pompey player-of-the-season trophy.

The former Cherries man made it clear he never wanted to leave Pompey.

But the reality of the Blues’ financial woes made Pearce’s exit inevitable.

Appleton wants to see him now make the most of his departure – and take the chance that has come his way.

The Pompey manager said: ‘Jason’s done fantastically for the football club since he has come back here.

‘I’ve got a lot of time for him. I wouldn’t have given him the captaincy after Liam Lawrence left if that wasn’t the case.

‘He’s got all the attributes of an old-fashioned defender.

‘The comparisons that people use with him also are favourable.

‘He loves defending, he loves heading the ball, he loves getting his blocks in and he loves tackling.

‘Jason is a born leader so I’m not surprised in the interest in him – and, ultimately, he has gone to another fantastic club in Leeds. Hopefully it will work out for him.

‘I’m sure he will take the opportunity he has been given. In a nutshell, that is what it is.’

Appleton believes the first sale of the summer will now pave the way for a string of exits to follow.

The Pompey boss reckons Joel Ward could be the next to go, with a host of sides trailing the 22-year-old.

Appleton feels there is a game of poker being played between the sides who are eyeing moves for his staff.

The reality is virtually all of them will have to go to generate finance to keep the club alive – and lower Pompey’s £12m annual wage bill.

That needs to come down to around the £5m mark in League One next season.

Appleton said: ‘I think now that the first one is done, I get the impression there will be a snowball effect.

‘You only have to look at the other lads at the football club.

‘You’ve got Joel who is an asset to the football club, you’ve got David (Norris), Luke (Varney) and Greg (Halford) who are assets.

‘Obviously, Erik (Huseklepp and Liam (Lawrence) are out there on loan. I’m not sure what the situation is with Hayden (Mullins).

‘You get the impression no-one wants to show their hand first.

‘They are all double guessing the true valuation of players, I’m guessing.

‘But Jason Pearce’s move will probably be the catalyst for what happens for the rest of the summer.’