A year in which Pompey boss took scalpel to his squad

Kyle Bennett celebrates scoring against Cheltenham with Enda Stevens, Gary Roberts and Jamal Lowe - the only one of the four still at Pompey
Kyle Bennett celebrates scoring against Cheltenham with Enda Stevens, Gary Roberts and Jamal Lowe - the only one of the four still at Pompey
Ben Close, left, and Jack Whatmough celebrate Pompey's win at oldham last season/ Picture: Joe Pepler

Whatmough: Pompey midfielder can become really special player

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KAL NAISMITH went through the obligatory photos and interviews a new signing’s required to undertake.

Wigan’s latest arrival was paraded exactly three weeks after his Pompey exit was confirmed, to sever another link with the club’s League Two title winners.

Pompey's players and staff celebrate winning the 2016-17 League Two title on the final day of the season Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey's players and staff celebrate winning the 2016-17 League Two title on the final day of the season Picture: Joe Pepler

Naismith was, of course, a key man in the charge to silverware, with seven goals and as many assists across his final 11 games of that season.

Kenny Jackett didn’t view the Scottish talent as part of his plans, though, as he continues to put in place a squad to get the club out of the third tier at the second attempt.

As he approaches a year at the helm, the breadth of Jackett’s overhaul since succeeding Paul Cook is increasingly apparent.

A look at the Blues team who delivered an unlikely title win on the final day of the 2016-17 campaign underlines the change in the Jackett era. Of the starting XI who delivered the memorable 6-1 victory over Cheltenham, only five remain at the club.

One of those – Conor Chaplin – sees his future the subject of speculation, after a lack of opportunities last term. Matt Clarke is also attracting attention after an outstanding campaign, with a number of clubs said to be keen on the 21-year-old.

Christian Burgess, Gareth Evans and Danny Rose are the other starters from that day who remain at PO4.

Of the rest, David Forde (Cambridge), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Michael Doyle (Coventry), Carl Baker (unattached), Kyle Bennett (Bristol Rovers) and Naismith (Wigan) have all moved on.

Factoring in the bench, a total of 11 players from the 18-man match-day squad have now departed.

Jack Whatmough and Jamal Lowe were subs for the final game of Cook’s tenure as manager.

The other five – Liam O’Brien (Coventry), Amine Linganzi (Swindon), Gary Roberts (Wigan), Stanley Aborah (Waterford) and Nicke Kabamba (unattached) – exited over the ensuing 12 months.

Widening the parameters to take in the Pompey squad at the end of the 16-17 season shows just how much change has taken place over the last year.

Of the 29 players at the club as the campaign ended, a whopping 18 men have now moved on.

Eoin Doyle’s loan was not renewed, as he returned to parent club Preston before joining Oldham, where he scored 16 goals this term.

Michael Smith also enjoyed success as he moved on, gaining promotion to the Championship with Rotherham, with Tom Davies going up to League One with Coventry via the play-offs.

Curtis Main fired Motherwell to a Scottish Cup final after moving north of the border, while Noel Hunt was a fringe member of the Wigan side who won the League One title.

But the grass hasn’t been greener away from Fratton Park for all those squad members who left. Drew Talbot was relegated from League Two after returning to Chesterfield and Milan Lalkovic has been hindered by injury problems after leaving in January.

What is clear is Jackett felt major surgery was needed on his options – and has wielded the scalpel.

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