Kenny Jackett's message to likes of Paul Downing and James Bolton over Portsmouth exit

Their Pompey first-team opportunities are limited, at best.

Sunday, 10th January 2021, 6:00 am

But Kenny Jackett today told his Fratton fringe players they won’t be leaving this month unless he can guarantee they can be replaced.

The strain of a congested fixture programme over the second half of the season and the constant threat of losing players to Covid-19, will lead the Blues boss to operating a safety-first approach to managing his squad numbers through the January window.

Paul Downing is out of the first-team picture at present and is attracting interest from sides in League One and at the top of League Two.

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James Bolton is also completely in the cold and, like Downing, has not played a minute of league football this term.

The likes of Ben Close and Bryn Morris are also finding first-team minutes hard to come by at present.

Jackett has two spaces in his squad for players over the age of 20, under the salary cap and squad restrictions voted in last summer.

Paul Downing and James Bolton.

Pompey find themselves in rude health at present, as they embark on a frenetic run of seven games in 21 days this month.

Jackett is not naive enough to think things will remain the same, however, and that is underpinning his attitude when it comes to doing transfer business.

He said: ‘At the moment we have no injuries and we’ve just had Covid testing and had no positives. That’s good as well.

‘If it stays like that for the upcoming months that’s great – but we all know that’s unlikely to happen.

‘We haven’t had any offers in place for any players as of yet, but that might change.

‘Nobody has put any offers down for our fringe players either.

‘It depends on who it is and what kind of finances are in place (if any offer is accepted for a fringe player).

‘Similarly, if we let people go from our squad we would need a replacement and at this stage that won’t be easy.

‘I’m not saying necessarily nobody will go because it’s hard to say that, but for somebody to leave now we would want a replacement because it’s such an important time.

‘We know the possibilities of injuries and Covid are going to be accelerated through the winter months with the amount of games we have.’

Despite making it clear no one will leave before February 1 without a replacement lined up, Jackett explained that doesn’t mean he won’t have leeway to redress the balance of his squad.

A left-back is a priority with Cam Pring returning to Bristol City after being recalled, while the need for some drive in midfield is well established.

Jackett stated that if a player like Bolton moved on, he could potentially use that extra space in his budget to bolster his spending when looking at other areas.

That would certainly be a requirement to fund a deal for Birmingham’s Steve Seddon, for example.

Jackett added: ‘We would want to bring in a player (if Bolton left). Whether that was another right-back or not we’ll see what the case might be.

‘Looking at it now it would be a left-back, but we don’t want to be weaker going into the second half of the season with fewer numbers.

‘We’re not going to let people go unless we have replacements.

‘As it stands at the moment, we have two places left - one will be a left-back and then we have one space.

‘That’s how it looks out of our existing squad, but in terms of the left-back we will need a replacement.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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