Mark Catlin has warned against the ‘gamble’ of Pompey attempting to sign Caolan Lavery.
The Fratton faithful have been eager for the return of the striker who netted four times in 12 appearances in loan spell this season.
It is a bit of a lottery and one I think as a football club would be very difficult for us to get involved inMark Catlin
The 23-year-old departed the Blues at the turn of the year, yet issues over his Sheffield Wednesday contract meant he spent the second half of the campaign deprived of first-team football anywhere.
Now Lavery is a free agent, although his age means any interested club would be required to sign him for a fee fixed by a tribunal.
And it’s a route Catlin believes Pompey should be loath to follow.
He said: ‘Paul (Cook) has been a long-term admirer of Caolan.
‘But the whole thing is very complicated in regards of he is out of contract now and it becomes a matter for the tribunal to discuss – and that is one hell of a gamble.
‘It could be anything from £200,000 to £500,000, no-one knows. With Sheffield Wednesday being a Championship club it could even be figures in excess of that.
‘It is a bit of a lottery and one I think as a football club would be very difficult for us to get involved in.
‘Theoretically we could be taking part in a lottery which could even cost you up to £1m, you just don’t know.
‘What people need to realise is with a tribunal you are committed to the outcome, you have to pay it.
‘In general – and I’m not talking about Caolan here – but if we went after a particular player at a tribunal and the tribunal said “you are going to have to pay a million pounds”, we cannot turn around and say “well, I’m not going to sign him then”.
‘You are bound by the tribunal’s decision.
‘You have to prepare for worst-case scenario and that is one hell of a gamble for a football club, especially one in League Two dealing with a club in the Championship.
‘The situation with Caolan has never been straightforward, but not many deals are to be honest.’
Lavery hadn’t played a minute of league football this season before arriving at Fratton Park in October.
Injury to Matt Tubbs prompted Cook to recruit a player who had previously impressed during a Chesterfield loan spell under him.
The Northern Ireland under-21 international opened his goal account at Notts County on his fourth Pompey appearance.
He went on to form a superb double-act with fellow loanee Marc McNulty, between them registering nine goals is as many games when matched in the side.
Yet Catlin is uncertain whether the youngster actually wants a Blues return.
He added: ‘I don’t know if he is interested, that is a decision for Caolan and his advisors.
‘He will be swayed, as are all players, by what his advisor tells him.’