Pompey’s endangered species which needs saving

Pompey striker Conor Chaplin Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey striker Conor Chaplin Picture: Joe Pepler

Paul Merson with the Division One championship trophy

Pompey set to welcome new crop of legends

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Conor Chaplin finds himself an endangered species at Pompey.

He is that rarest of creatures at Fratton Park – a first-team striker who’s under contract and wanted.

The exciting young prospect currently stands alone in that position, an indicator of where recruiting priorities lie for Paul Cook.

The summer surgery is well under way down at the club’s Roko training base in Hilsea.

Meetings with the board and staff have already taken place with targets in Cook’s sight and work has begun to land them.

Strikers, evidently, are going to be a key area. So what is going to be needed up top?

Caolan Lavery would be a nice start.

Cook believes Lavery is the man who would’ve made the difference between the play-offs and automatic promotion if he’d remained this season.

His partnership with Marc McNulty was blossoming before he returned to Sheffield Wednesday in January.

Lavery took the choice to sit it out over the second half of the campaign instead of signing a new deal at Hillsborough.

That gives him options now, although the Owls will be entitled to training compensation if they offer the 23-year-old a new deal – as would seem inevitable to strengthen their financial position.

We wait to hear developments on that front, with the Championship play-off final keeping Wednesday busy for the time being.

Across the Steel City, a change of manager at Bramall Lane could throw a spanner in the works to land McNulty.

Chris Wilder has been quick to make it clear the man who finished at Pompey’s top scorer is wanted.

McNulty would love to link up with Cook, though – a boss he has gained huge admiration and appreciation for.

But, with a year on his deal with the Blades, it may now be a case of watching this space over hopes of a return for the 23-year-old.

The retained list announced on Tuesday confirmed what we already knew about Matt Tubbs. His days at PO4 are numbered.

Adam McGurk, who has been used as a forward, joins Tubbs on the transfer list.

Michael Smith returned to Swindon at the end of his loan, speaking of a possible return. He is a player who is still held in high regard by Cook.

The Scouser’s preferred 4-2-3-1 approach provides a need for a certain type of hitman, but, interestingly, the Pompey boss has indicated he may look to operate with a pair of strikers at Fratton Park next season.

Two new faces with the versatility to play in both formations appears the minimum requirement.

– JORDAN CROSS

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