Pompey boss' striker fear

Paul Cook is bracing himself to be without Conor Wilkinson for Pompey's play-off campaign.

Tuesday, 3rd May 2016, 7:01 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:42 pm
Conor Wilkinson has suffered a fresh injury blow

Meanwhile, the Blues have been informed they are not allowed to bring in an emergency goalkeeper.

It was 42 days ago when Bolton’s Wilkinson agreed a Fratton Park loan move for the remainder of the season.

The length of his stay also included the play-offs, providing cover for Michael Smith’s return to Swindon at the end of his 93-day spell.

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However, the 21-year-old has yet to even train with Cook’s side.

A groin injury picked up on duty with the Republic of Ireland under-21s has kept him in Bolton for treatment.

Pompey’s striking options have been further hit with Smith returning to Swindon at the weekend, while Marc McNulty’s hamstring problem is also expected to keep him out of Northampton’s visit on Saturday.

Out-of-favour Matt Tubbs’ time at Eastleigh has now ended following their failure to qualify for the National League play-offs.

But Cook does not have high hopes over Wilkinson’s Blues presence.

He said: ‘Michael Smith has gone now, it is part of the game, something we have to look at.

‘I am confident we have the players to cope, however.

‘With Wilkinson, I don’t know when – or if – he will be with us.

‘He’s had a couple of set-backs so it isn’t looking great at the minute.

‘It will be hard to bring someone in at that late stage and throw them in, especially when you have lads here who have continued to be involved.

‘As time goes by it gets more difficult.

‘Marc has a hamstring problem which is disappointing. He started feeling it against Wycombe, which is why we brought him out.

‘We’ll just have to see.’

A striking option for Cook is Conor Chaplin, who netted in the 2-0 win at Hartlepool on Saturday.

The youngster has registered in his past two Pompey appearances, taking his season’s goal tally to 11.

Adam McGurk is another alternative, having filled the role on occasions this term.

However, his last goal was in December against Accrington in the FA Cup.

It remains to be seen whether Tubbs is now involved following his Eastleigh stint.

The Blues also have injury concerns over their goalkeeping pool.

Brian Murphy is the sole fit shot-stopper at present, with Paul Jones (thigh), Ryan Fulton (thigh) and Alex Bass (knee) all sidelined.

For the play-offs, clubs are allowed to bring in a keeper on an emergency loan.

That is the only position with qualifies.

However, the Football League have confirmed to Pompey they do not fulfil the criteria.

All keepers must be injured to warrant such action.