Sought-after Varney won’t leave on the cheap

Luke Varney shows frustration
Luke Varney shows frustration
Milan Lalkovic in pre-season action against the Hawks

Pompey winger set for return against Walsall

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Only a ‘substantial’ offer will see Luke Varney leave Pompey.

That is the pledge from Michael Appleton as the clock ticks down towards the end of the emergency loan window.

Nottingham Forest have joined the pursuit of the Blues’ joint-top goalscorer, ahead of Thursday’s deadline.

On Saturday, Varney, marking his second start following a lengthy injury absence, wasted several golden chances as Pompey were held to a goalless draw by Bristol City.

Leeds have also indicated their interest in the former Blackpool striker, who only arrived at Fratton Park in the summer.

Appleton does not want to lose any more members of his diminishing squad, particularly a player of the calibre of the 29-year-old.

But he admitted he would have little choice should the price be right.

He said: ‘Varns is going to be linked to at least half a dozen clubs I would imagine, from now until Thursday.

‘I think there is an interest from Forest.

‘But speaking to Trevor (Birch), he did say if there was going to be any substantial offer then we would think about it and talk about it.

‘If it is not a substantial offer then I don’t think we are in a position where we need to get rid of a player if they are not going to make it worthwhile.

‘We are getting to the point where the end of the season is six or so weeks away.

‘So, from a business point of view, myself and more importantly Trevor will decide whether that figure is substantial enough to let one of those players go.

‘If not, then we keep the players and focus on what is going to be a difficult time from now until the season ends.

‘I imagine I am going to have a very busy three days or so.

‘But the more we can keep in the building, the better opportunity we have got for trying to produce the Great Escape.’

In addition, Appleton is aiming to bring in loans to replace departed duo Hayden Mullins and Stephen Henderson.

However, he is unsure about which positions he will strengthen.

He added: ‘You can only play five loans and we have three in the building at the minute.

‘I will be looking to bring two in before Thursday otherwise we’ll be up the creek without a paddle.

‘What position they are depends which players we lose.

‘I have got to be careful, I don’t want to start jumping the gun and bring a couple of strikers in or a couple of midfielders if I then lose a couple of centre halves.

‘I have got to tee it up as best I possibly can before Thursday, bearing in mind what might happen elsewhere in terms of players leaving.’

– NEIL ALLEN