Appy waiting for the green light to strike

Pompey triallist Liam Walker
Pompey triallist Liam Walker
Lee Bowyer.

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At the moment he has two members of staff on his roster.

That could be a big fat zero by the end of the week, though.

Something of a concern for Michael Appleton you would have thought, seeing as Pompey’s first competitive game of the new season is just seven days away.

It’s fair to say there’s a simmering frustration at being forced to wait to sign his first player so close to the new campaign.

That’s tinged with a realism at his club’s perilous situation, however, with the Friday, August 10, liquidation deadline imposed by administrator Trevor Birch still in force.

Whether that could change in the coming days we are waiting to see, with Balram Chainrai’s Portpin and the Pompey Supporters’ Trust waiting in the wings to complete a takeover.

Given a successful outcome to that process, it promises to be a frenetic period of signings for Appleton as he attempts to get a squad together for the Capital One Cup trip to Plymouth next Tuesday.

But Appleton has made private indications he’s ready to strike. And strike quickly.

Given the opportunity, the Pompey boss has suggested he could bring in as many as 20 players to put a squad together.

That would be some achievement given he’s somehow had to keep targets sweet all summer without them moving elsewhere.

That, of course, would have happened plenty of times with players – like Simon Gillett – choosing to go to rival suitors as the wait for Pompey’s future to become clear goes on.

Appleton is confident he will be ready to pounce, though, to boost his options.

Of the 21 players used in Saturday’s impressive win over Bolton, there were 13 men playing for a contract.

The Pompey boss is now impatiently waiting to do something about bringing the players he wants in.

Appleton said: ‘At the end of the day, I am still trying to juggle in my head a team that I think can be capable of what I need to do this year.

‘It’s just a case of waiting to be able to do something.

‘As soon as I get the green light I’ll be ready to go.’

It remains to be seen who of the players currently at the club will go on to earn themselves permanent deals.

The likes of Mustapha Dumbuya, Brian Howard, Jon Harley, Liam Walker, Simon Eastwood and Izale McLeod look nailed on to gain contracts after impressing to date.

The future for the likes of Josh Thompson, Kieran Djilali, Luke Rodgers, Jack Compton, Glenn Morris and Agonit Sallaj aren’t quite as clear at this stage.

Meanwhile, there was one new addition to the triallist posse against Bolton on Saturday.

Conor Clifford arrived from Chelsea, with a year left on his existing agreement at Stamford Bridge.

The young Irishman caught the eye with a confident 45-minute second-half showing.

Clifford has made it clear he is keen for a loan move to Fratton Park.

And Appleton has indicated there is every chance of that happening – if and when he gets the chance to make it happen.

He said: ‘Conor may be part of things.

‘He is a young lad from Chelsea, he is going to come in and train with us for a week or so until we are in a position to do something.

‘If we are, he is certainly one player we will maybe look to to bring in on loan and see how it develops over the next few days.

‘How long the loan would be is something I have not even thought about.

‘He is a good player – I have seen him many, many times for Chelsea reserves and Academy.

‘He may be just part of a group of players we need.

‘He likes a tackle, he is confident in possession of the ball, sometimes he gets caught up in what I call “Academy football” with little ones round the corner, little 10-yard passes.

‘He has got more in his locker, I have seen it.

‘He can play 35-yard passes and switch the play.

‘We will work with him and make sure we get out of him what we want.’