Pompey target new deals for prized pair

Pompey are poised to launch talks with prized pair Christian Burgess and Kal Naismith over fresh deals.

Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 7:00 am
Christian Burgess Picture: Joe Pepler

The Blues have focused on player recruitment during a summer which also brought in Kenny Jackett as manager.

Now chief executive Mark Catlin is eyeing retaining some of the club’s star names whose contracts expire in the summer of 2018.

At the top of that list are Burgess and Naismith – two key performers in the side which clinched the League Two title.

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Kal Naismith Picture: Joe Pepler

Both are popular figures among the Fratton faithful and can expect to continue featuring regularly under new boss Jackett.

And Catlin is ready to open talks to tie them to Fratton Park even longer.

He said: ‘I don’t think it is fair to speak about individuals – Burgess and Naismith are not the only two out of contract next year.

‘However, there are players out of contact at the end of the season that we may look to extend and they will be spoken to over the coming weeks.

Kal Naismith Picture: Joe Pepler

‘Under the current ownership model, nothing has changed in that regard and I don’t anticipate it to change.

‘So over the coming weeks we will be sitting down with players out of contract over the coming season and will discuss that with them.

‘It’s a change in approach. We are planning now that, as a minimum, we are going to be in League One, so all of our thoughts and planning are from a different base.

‘Whereas last year it was difficult.

‘What we couldn’t do in League Two was tie up all our budget in giving existing players new contracts.

‘That would have held back investment in bringing in other players, especially as we could have ended up staying in League Two.

‘Being in League One enables us to change our strategy and plan more for the mid-to-long term. Getting key players signed up as early as possible is obviously a key part of that strategy.’

Burgess and Naismith both arrived at Fratton Park in the summer of 2015 under Paul Cook.

Central defender Burgess has gone on to make 88 appearances and score six times, while Naismith has racked up 18 goals in 63 matches.

And Catlin is keen on there not being a repeat of this summer, when out-of-contract trio Enda Stevens, Michael Doyle and Liam O’Brien left.

He added: ‘It would be unfair to say Enda Stevens was the only player that went this summer and you punched the wall and said “Oh damn”.

‘There were definitely others you could argue needed to stay or go, people who helped the club win League Two.

‘Yet Enda was a blow because of his age and was potentially someone that could grow with the club up the leagues.

‘Hopefully with Tareiq (Holmes–Dennis), we now have someone who can fill his big shoes.’