Uncertain futures for the Pompey 16

Yassin Moutaouakil is unlikely to be offered an extension to his one-year deal Picture: Joe Pepler
Yassin Moutaouakil is unlikely to be offered an extension to his one-year deal Picture: Joe Pepler
Milan Lalkovic in pre-season action against the Hawks

Pompey winger set for return against Walsall

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Andy Awford will be handed the remit to rip up Pompey’s bulging squad this summer.

And with 16 first-team players out of contract, the scope is there to perform extensive surgery in the push to ensure there will be no relegation scare repeat.

Negotiations continue over the inevitable appointment of the caretaker boss in the role permanently.

In the meantime, players are preparing for the final match of the campaign in the form of Plymouth on Saturday.

For some, it represents their last-ever Blues appearance, while others achieved that landmark long, long ago.

There are some obvious names who will depart Fratton Park when Awford sifts through the current 31-man squad as he plots the way ahead.

Leading the way is Yassin Moutaouakil, whose last appearance was as a substitute against Bristol Rovers on December 21.

Guy Whittingham, Richie Barker and Awford have all eventually overlooked the Frenchman who has not made a first-team squad in 2014.

The right-back was offered a two-year deal last summer by Whittingham, but insisted instead on one year, with a 12-month option.

There’s no chance of that being taken up and Moutaouakil will depart after 16 appearances this season – and 35 overall for the club.

He will be accompanied by Thery Racon – a player still held in high regard by some Pompey fans, but not particularly by the past three managers this season.

The ex-Millwall man’s last outing was as a substitute at home to Accrington Stanley in a 1-0 triumph.

Since then he has featured in only six of the past 12 match-day squads – without making an appearance in any – and remained stranded on 32 career outings for the Blues.

Others are not so obvious exits, although Marcos Painter is highly unlikely to play for the club again following the knee injury which ended his season early.

The 27-year-old has impressed on occasions and is a likeable character, but has endured an injury-hampered season amid his 18 appearances.

Home-grown youngsters Ashley Harris and Jack Maloney also face an uncertain future, having failed to break into the first-team this season.

Harris, who has made just one substitute appearance and had loan spells at the Hawks, Chelmsford and Bognor, has 35 career outings and three goals for the Blues.

Maloney broke into the first team at the tail-end of last season but made the one substitute appearance this term – instead spending loans at Aldershot and Lewes.

The remaining local lad among the 16 is Adam Webster, who has re-emerged under Awford following a lengthy loan spell at Aldershot.

Barker had long earmarked the option to be taken up on the defender’s expiring contract and expect Awford to agree to tie him to Fratton Park for the future.

Fellow Academy product Jed Wallace has been a constant source of speculation during the campaign, having turned down several tabled deals.

There has long been an expectation among the Pompey hierarchy he will depart for higher leagues in the summer, with a fee to be decided by a tribunal.

Inevitably, the club would love to retain him. But this will come down to the player’s own footballing ambition following 71 appearances and 13 goals.

In terms of the loan players, Michael Drennan and Daniel Alfei’s Fratton spells expire after this weekend, although at their parent clubs they will be free agents in the summer of 2015, ruling out permanent deals.

It’s a different situation with first-team regulars Trevor Carson and Danny Hollands, who will both be available this summer and remain interesting decisions for Awford to take.

Carson has emerged as a contender for player of the season and solved the early-season goalkeeping crisis, making 38 appearances so far.

Before today, the impressive Hollands has yet to taste Blues defeat and been a lightning rod in the drive to safety, netting twice in the process.

The likes of Phil Smith and Ryan Bird both signed one-year deals with 12-month options last summer, yet their futures are not clear.

Smith has not played since October, while Bird shone during a Cambridge loan spell, netting nine goals, but since recalled to Fratton has been out injured.

Fellow striker Jervis has dropped out of the frame completely under Awford, making just two appearances, despite a promising start at the Blues. However, the front man has done little to convince recently.

Finally, big decisions are to be made over Nicky Shorey and Bondz N’Gala – regulars in the second half of the season.

Strong arguments could be made for keeping both, yet there are plenty of alternative options for their positions in the current squad.

The opportunity and inclination is there to make sweeping squad changes for Awford once appointed – and fans wait to see the direction he opts for.