‘It’s not all doom and gloom – we’ve got a good core’ – new US Portsmouth boss Tom Grice on the ‘exodus’ to Moneyfields
US Portsmouth boss Tom Grice is remaining positive after seeing an ‘exodus’ of players follow predecessor Glenn Turnbull to Moneyfields.
Turnbull has taken 11 of the squad which reached the FA Vase semi-final and Wessex League Cup final with him to Dover Road.
They are: goalkeeper Tom Price, defenders Tom Cain, Harry Birmingham, Elliott Turnbull, Liam Kyle and Sonny Harnett-Balkwill, midfielders Callum Glen, Jordan Pile and James Franklyn, and strikers Dec Seiden and Tyler Moret.
In addition, he has also signed midfielder Harry Bedford, who didn’t play at all in 2020/21 due to injury.
But Grice is happy that a ‘good core’ remain - defenders Josh Hazell, Jack Chandler, Frankie Paige, John Cass and new assistant manager Tom Jeffes, midfielder Cam Quirke, and strikers Andrew Todd and Dan Sibley.
George Root, Sean Snelling, Damian Kelsall - back-up keeper to Price last term - and Brodie Spencer are also staying at the Victory Stadium for the club’s first ever taste of Wessex League Premier football.
‘From the outside it might seem we’ve got no players left,’ said Grice. ‘We haven’t been left a lot but we’ve got a good core.
‘To be honest, what we’ve got left is about right with what I thought we’d have left - I didn’t really expect to lose more or less.
‘We’ve got some very good players with points to prove.
‘We have lost a lot of quality, I won’t beat around the bush. Pricey will be a massive loss - I was disappointed he left, it was touch and go whether he stayed.
‘It might sound strange, but we’re in a lot better position than I thought we might be.
‘I know some of the others could have gone to Moneyfields but they have decided to stay because they want to be here.
‘We had a large squad and some of them will have thought ‘if I’m not getting in the team here then chances are I won’t be getting in the team over there (Moneyfields)’.
‘We’ll need to build on the good platform left by Glenn, Fraser (Quirke) and Paul (Barton).
‘We’ll call on that underdog spirit that we had last season
‘We’ll also be bringing new players in. I’m happy and I know TJ (Jeffes) is happy as well.
‘It’s certainly not all doom and gloom, it’s not a 100 per cent total rebuild.’
Grice admits the pressure will be off his side to do well next season – unlike others on Portsea Island.
‘Glenn is spending a lot of money (at Moneyfields) and that brings with it extra pressure, make no bones about that,’ said Grice. ‘Shaun Wilkinson the same at Baffins.
‘It’s a free hit for us, though.
‘I can’t wait for the games against Moneyfields, Baffins and Horndean. There’s extra spice, extra publicity and extra revenue for the club which we need to survive.
‘They are the sort of games we didn’t get in Division 1, so it’s been a long time coming.
‘It’s all friendly rivalry, there’s no malice - I still speak to Glenn a lot and Shaun Wilkinson at Baffins.’
USP start pre-season training on June 24 with their first friendly against Barking - one of Jeffes’ former clubs - on Saturday, July 10.
Games against step 4 pair Chichester City and Sholing are also inked in, along with home games against Wessex newcomers Infinity and Hampshire Premier Leaguers Locks Heath.
USP’s historic Wessex Premier debut on Tuesday, August 3, is a bit low-key - away to an Alton side who have come up with them from Division 1.
But their opening home game, a week later, is the first of 10 PO postcode derbies in 2021/22 league action - against Horndean.
The following month, US host Baffins Milton Rovers on Tuesday, September 21, and the following Tuesday have the eagerly-anticipated trip to Moneyfields.