Title winners – but Pompey newcomers are essential

ompey are yet to add to the squad that secured the League Two title, while the likes of captain Michael Doyle and Enda Stevens have left
ompey are yet to add to the squad that secured the League Two title, while the likes of captain Michael Doyle and Enda Stevens have left
Pompey keeper Luke McGee Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey keeper McGee to have scan

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Pompey’s hierarchy anticipated low-key transfer activity during the summer of 2016.

Instead, Paul Cook drove through 13 signings to fully equip a squad which would ultimately capture the League Two title.

By this stage last year, Danny Rose, Matt Clarke and Carl Baker had already arrived on the south coast to bolster the 2015-16 League Two play-off semi-finalists.

Now Kenny Jackett is at the Fratton Park helm, overseeing a group of players rich in ability and entrenched in a winning spirit.

Yet the new Blues boss has publicly admitted he doesn’t anticipate ‘a lot’ of activity in terms of player recruitment.

With a squad currently numbering 23, already there is no shortage of selection quandaries facing the man who replaced Cook at the start of the month.

Regardless, newcomers are an inevitable requirement, particularly in several positions left light following close-season departures.

Firstly, there is the goalkeeping area, with only Alex Bass remaining on Pompey’s books.

Since last season, Academy stopper Nick Hall has been released, loanee David Forde returned to Millwall and Liam O’Brien elected to sign for Coventry on a two-year deal.

Clearly a number one is required, particular with the Blues having apparently cooled on bringing Forde back.

Whether that search extends to two goalkeepers depends on the plans Jackett has for 19-year-old Bass and if he sees him as ready to serve as a number two.

Elsewhere, the loss of Enda Stevens is a brutal one – a high-calibre performer who will be difficult to replace at left-back.

That leaves only Brandon Haunstrup as a consideration. But even if Jackett favours the youngster as a regular starter, he still requires a left-back alternative.

Over at right-back, the ever-popular Gareth Evans served with great distinction last season in an unfamiliar role.

He remains, as does Drew Talbot, yet many Pompey fans would like to see a conventional full-back recruited to allow Evans to influence further forward.

The departure of Michael Doyle has deprived the Blues of their skipper and holding midfielder linchpin.

Similarly, Stanley Aborah has not been retained and Amine Linganzi is awaiting a contract offer.

That leaves Danny Rose, Ben Close, Adam May and Academy graduate Theo Widdrington battling it out for two spots, emphasising the need for further competition to be recruited.

As it stands, there are plenty of options among the midfield attacking three, particularly following Milan Lalkovic’s return from loan.

Finally, strikers struggled to thrive in Cook’s 4-2-3-1 system – a formation Jackett has indicated he will maintain.

Noel Hunt has not returned, but Curtis Main is injury-free, Michael Smith is back from his Northampton loan spell and Nicke Kabamba is progressing.

Conor Chaplin remains a talent, but it continues to be an area in need of vital attention – perhaps requiring as many as two new additions.

Tallied up, conceivably as many as seven fresh faces may need pursuing. As ever, Pompey’s manager will decide.