Birch: No choice in Lawrence deal

Pompey have received a 'substantial' fee for Liam Lawrence's loan move to Cardiff
Pompey have received a 'substantial' fee for Liam Lawrence's loan move to Cardiff
Former Pompey midfielder Gary O'Neil

On this Day: O'Neil deals with his secret Pompey agony

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Pompey had little choice but to accept Liam Lawrence’s loan exit, according to Trevor Birch.

And the club’s administrator has conceded more of the Blues’ best players may have to leave, with six Championship teams believed to be interested in snapping up Jason Pearce.

Blues skipper Lawrence was shipped off to high-flying Cardiff City on loan for the rest of the campaign late yesterday, with the Bluebirds stumping up a ‘significant’ fee and also paying his entire wages – thought to be around £20,000 per week.

While Lawrence’s departure will allow Pompey boss Michael Appleton to bring in a loan replacement to his threadbare squad, it’s further evidence on exactly how desperate things have become at Fratton Park.

And Birch also revealed there are ongoing discussions regarding other Pompey players who could yet leave before the end of the loan window on March 22.

Birch said: ‘I think it’s been in the offing for a couple of days after Cardiff expressed an interest.

‘Let’s be honest – you don’t want to do any of these deals. This is the last thing you want to do.

‘But I’ve got to find the balance between keeping the team together and getting the club through until the end of the season to give us the opportunity to sell the business.

‘I’m not prepared to say how much Cardiff have paid but it was a significant fee and makes a difference.

‘It starts to fill the gap and it’s all part and parcel of that.’

West Ham and Brighton are among the six clubs who are rumoured to have lodged their interest in Pearce, while even his former club Bournemouth are believed to have made an approach to re-sign the centre-back.

Stephen Henderson, Joel Ward, David Norris and Greg Halford are also attracting interest.

And Birch admits he could yet be powerless to stop other important players leaving the ranks in a bid to keep the club afloat.

Birch said: ‘You can’t pick and choose which players go, unfortunately.

‘There may be other players who people would have an opinion on which ones should be going, but it doesn’t work like that.

‘There are discussions ongoing on other players. People are aware of our predicament so they are obviously going to make approaches and we’ve just got to deal with it.’

Appleton was philosophical at his press conference on Thursday ahead of this afternoon’s visit of Middlesbrough.

And while he has been told he will be able to bring in a replacement to boost his depleted ranks, the Blues boss faces a race against the clock to get anyone registered in time for today’s clash.

Birch said: ‘Michael will be able to bring someone in to replace Lawrence but I don’t know who that would be.

‘He has been identifying players who might be available. I’ve been working with him on all of these issues. He knows the situation and knows what is required.’