Pompey promotion bid may hinge on transfer window finale    Â

There's still time, of course, the opportunity remains to push the shopping trolley down another aisle.

Friday, 3rd August 2018, 2:26 pm
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 5:13 pm
Kenny Jackett addresses his Pompey players. Picture: Joe Pepler

Kenny Jackett has been shrewd in the transfer market, no wild wielding of the scattergun to satisfy the customary clamour for fresh faces.

Of his six summer recruits, certainly Craig MacGillivray, Lee Brown, Ronan Curtis and Tom Naylor will start the League One curtain-raiser against Luton. Perhaps also Anton Walkes, inset.

Pompey's boss has focused on strengthening the first team of a club which last term claimed an eighth-place finish, while deprived of play-off entry by five points.

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Kenny Jackett addresses his Pompey players. Picture: Joe Pepler

No swelling squad numbers with a procession of bit-part signings, as demonstrated during Paul Cook's second pre-season at Fratton Park.

Although, in fairness, he did lead those players to the League Two title.

Yet Jackett's talent search remains in progress ahead of the August 9 deadline for permanent deals '“ and Pompey promotion could well depend on the outcome.

The thwarted pursuit of Mo Eisa proved a frustrating saga, yet the Blues should not be criticised for their ambition.

The manager identified the necessity for the introduction of a striking option with pace and mobility into his squad.

A figure to complement either Brett Pitman or Oli Hawkins, with Jackett having previously acknowledged the pair's lack of speed made it difficult to match them together.

Ultimately, Bristol City captured Eisa, yet the Blues' desire for a similarly-equipped performer remains fierce.

Whether operating as a lone striker, ensuring Pitman can drop behind, or serving alongside the skipper, Pompey's attack requires a pace injection which presently eludes.

If Jackett can identify a successful candidate, it can help transform their forward threat, breaking down stubborn opponents.

Conor Chaplin, the striker the club have shown they are willing to sacrifice, lacks the required blistering pace, although he is not short of deadly goal-scoring instinct.

Also missing from the proverbial jigsaw puzzle is an attacking midfielder, possessing the talent to operate centrally.

Sean Longstaff has been identified as the solution '“ a loan arrival from Newcastle which remains on hold.

During a season-long stay at Blackpool last term, he netted nine times in 45 appearances at League One level. The 20-year-old has since made an eye-catching impact during Newcastle's pre-season schedule, scoring against St Patrick's Athletic and persuading Rafa Benitez to retain him a while longer.

Longstaff '“ or a player of equal ilk '“ would offer creativity and goals across the attacking midfield three, particularly as a number 10.

Jackett last season struggled to fill that role, auditioning Kyle Bennett, Kal Naismith, Chaplin, Gareth Evans, Connor Ronan and Pitman.

Naismith, of course, was the outstanding success under predecessor Cook '“ yet barely featured in that remit during the last campaign.

The Blues require creativity, guile and goals from a number 10 and although summer signing Louis Dennis is a consideration, having been plucked from non-league he will have to wait for his chance.

The perfect candidate, whether it be Longstaff or another target, is out there waiting to strengthen another key attacking area for Pompey.

The Blues' sole close-season departure of any first-team substance was Naismith, yet even his powers had noticeably declined following a failure to depart for Wigan in January as initially planned.

It leaves Jackett with those same players who exceeded expectations upon the return to League One.

Armed with six new recruits and, hopefully, a kinder injury record, the potential is there to progress and climb higher up the table.

But the arrivals of a pacy striker and effective number 10 could truly make the difference.

Jackett already knows that '“ he's looking.