Pompey squad streamlining is not finished yet

Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin, left, and Brett Pitman Picture: Shaun Boggust

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The transfer window brought with it the inevitable departures of members of Paul Cook’s Pompey.

Yet the Blues boss remains concerned over the size of his playing squad as he plots a streamlined set-up.

Michael Poke, James Dunne, Rommy Boco and Nigel Atangana sealed their Fratton Park exits through mutual consent last month.

With their contracts expiring in the summer, the quartet had long drifted away from the first-team frame.

Yet all fixed themselves up with new clubs during the transfer window, with only Poke failing to secure a new League Two home.

It leaves Cook with a squad of 21 contracted senior players, although five loan recruits take the figure up to 26.

And he is still keen to reduce that total considerably the next time player trading is permitted.

He said: ‘I call it stockpiling players, it’s not right.

‘If you look at Premier League teams now, without being critical of them, my own team Liverpool have too many players and a lot of them aren’t going to play.

‘Yet they are on wages. The reality is we keep bringing people through the door but aren’t moving them out.

‘I am happy sometimes with pools of 18 or 19. Once you get that balance around the squad you have that good togetherness and a bit of an edge you can find which is sometimes lost on bigger squads.

‘You can’t keep telling people to keep going when there is no light.

‘As a player I wanted to play and nowadays something we have managed to do in football is take away the life, players are now happy not to play.

‘But then I suppose when you are on good money and breakfast is nice, lunch is nice and you have Wednesday off, it’s great.

‘You want the Saturday night feeling of being good or bad but you cannot replicate that by not playing.’

Of those to have permanently departed Fratton Park last month, Atangana has gone on to play three games for Leyton Orient, who visit on Saturday.

Dunne has so far turned out three times for Cambridge United, while Boco didn’t make the squad for new club Accrington Stanley in last weekend’s 1-0 win over Bristol Rovers.

Poke was an unused substitute for Eastleigh in their 1-1 draw with Wrexham, having already spent time with them on loan this season.

Meanwhile, coming into the club have been loan trio Michael Smith, Kieron Freeman and Ryan Fulton.

Cook added: ‘We are trying to help them as well, it’s not a case of we want them to move on.

‘The reality of those lads is the majority are after contracts longer than this season, so there is a benefit to them moving on.

‘Nowadays when it comes to the end of the season there is such a scramble for contracts and jobs that you have a duty to help our lads. They are our players, it’s not just a case of let’s pay them to leave and that’s the end of it.

‘It’s great to see Nigel Atangana and James Dunne playing regularly, it’s good to see the lads moving on and playing because when they move on we do wish them well.

‘But we have to make sure we look at our future.’