Comment: Pompey in position of strength after early spring clean

New Pompey goalkeeper Ryan Fulton
New Pompey goalkeeper Ryan Fulton
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We may still be in the throes of winter, but the January transfer window brought a touch of spring cleaning to Paul Cook’s Pompey ranks.

Fans up and down the country hope and expect some major business from their clubs when the window opens at the turn of the new year.

The Fratton Faithful will have been no different, especially with the Blues right in the mix to end their three-year stay in the bottom tier of the Football League.

But instead of an influx of new additions, as has been the case more often than not under previous managers at PO4, there was moderate change to reflect a squad that is still developing since being effectively put together during the summer, and one that collectively remains the envy of their League Two counterparts.

There was a quick dusting down and careful removal of those who started to look out of place.

That was coupled with a few fresh arrivals to breathe new life and some extra impetus ahead of a challenging period of the season.

Since his own arrival last May, Cook has always targeted having a Pompey squad topped up with quality rather than quantity.

He didn’t want players constantly on the fringes of his match-day selection hanging around, going stale and potentially disrupting the vibe he has enthusiastically instilled.

There’s been opportunities throughout the season, with the help of the emergency loan window, to ensure that didn’t happen.

But January allowed there to be a permanent parting of the ways, with the likes of James Dunne, Rommy Boco, Nigel Atangana and Michael Poke all shipped out to free up space and money for extra quality to be brought in.

No doubt there may be a few more joining that list of departees when the emergency loan window reopens next week - there was much surprise that the clearly out-of-favour Matt Tubbs didn’t depart on the final day of the window.

That may also allow the manager the scope to add one or two more to his ranks.

There were, after all, strong reports that the Blues were trying to add a midfielder to their number as last night’s deadline approached.

Whether or not that materialises, however, Cook will be content with the January arrivals board at Fratton Park.

The loan signing of Liverpool goalkeeper Ryan Fulton already looks a masterstroke, with the Blues’ issues in that department seemingly now long forgotten.

Kieron Freeman will provide serious cover for the division’s best two full-backs and won’t weaken the side too much, if any, if Ben Davies or Enda Stevens are injured or afforded a rest.

Meanwhile, deadline day arrival, Michael Smith, will provide a new dimension up front and that extra bit of cutting edge in the final third given his pedigree at Swindon last term.

Compared to some of their rivals, three new additions may not seem much, with so much at stake between now and the end of the campaign.

But as a unit, the Blues squad certainly looks stronger and more compact than it did at the start of January.

And with that extra bit of quality now at Cook’s disposal, his early spring clean will hopefully provide some sparkling silverware come the end of the season.