League One is the future '“ now for Pompey players' fate

Pompey's destination has been assured, the future mapped.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 24th April 2017, 5:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:34 pm
Kyle Bennett is one of 16 Pompey players out of contract this summer
Kyle Bennett is one of 16 Pompey players out of contract this summer

Now 16 players await their fates to discover whether they will continue to play a part in the club’s League One existence.

Paul Cook has the opportunity to revamp his promotion-winning squad as he plots a course to achieve more success as Blues boss.

Prized assets such as Christian Burgess, Matt Clarke, Kal Naismith and Conor Chaplin are safely secured to the club.

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Yet a number of other first-team regulars are out of contract in the summer as Cook scrutinises his squad.

Enda Stevens, Kyle Bennett and Gareth Evans represent the priority choices, having formed part of the backbone to the promotion-winning team.

Aged 26, there is sure to be plenty of interest in Stevens, who has been named in the PFA League Two Team of the Year among others.

Cook would love to retain a left-back contributing nine assists and a goal this season, yet pressure applied by other interested parties could prove decisive.

Bennett has been superb since the turn of the year and his goal return of four in successive games helped lead the upsurge in form following defeat to Crewe.

Settled in the Havant area, the winger finally feels accepted by Pompey fans and is rightly highly-regarded by many.

Then there is Evans, a regular in the right-back position since September, helping solidify the best defence in League Two.

His strong running, energy and commitment have made him a popular performer – and he is keen to preserve his future at Pompey.

Skipper Michael Doyle provides an interesting scenario, having been an ever-present during the league campaign.

Turning 36 in August, there can be no doubt he possesses the qualities to retain his status as a regular. However, Cook may decide there are fewer opportunities in his League One team.

Whether Doyle would want to serve as a bit-part player is a doubt, especially if he could earn regular football elsewhere.

Elsewhere, Jack Whatmough has started and ended the season in the team, yet only totalled 11 appearances.

Ahead of Tom Davies in Cook’s eyes, he’s a player the club want to keep. Yet the 20-year-old naturally requires more regular involvement.

The desire for more match action also applies to fellow local lads Ben Close and Brandon Haunstrup. The question is will they receive it if they remained?

Stanley Aborah admits he is encouraged by feedback from the club on the possibility of a new deal. Expect him to be retained.

Although, it is not as clear for Noel Hunt and Amine Linganzi, who have never let down the Blues yet remain largely bench performers.

Penalty-expert Liam O’Brien has spent the season as back-up keeper, while first-year professionals Calvin Davies and Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain have been loaned out for matches.

Finally, David Forde, Eoin Doyle and Aaron Simpson return to their parent clubs, although Forde is out of contract.

As ever, the choice is Paul Cook’s.