Cotterill facing 19-player summer exodus

Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
Ronan Curtis Picture: Lorcan Doherty

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Steve Cotterill has warned Pompey face another player crisis this summer unless permanent captures can be made before the transfer window slams shut.

The Blues have 19 players out of contract at the campaign’s end.

That represents the perfect opportunity for the club to prune its big earners and get the wage bill under control.

On the flip side, it will leave Cotterill with just nine players.

It’s a case of déjà vu for the Pompey boss, who was left with a similar scenario at the start of this season.

Hampered by administration and a registration embargo, it has left him struggling with the squad size ever since.

Now, looking ahead, he is desperate for more bodies to arrive on a permanent basis to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

Just over three days remain before the transfer window closes at 11pm on Monday.

Meanwhile, it could be the final Fratton season for the likes of David Nugent, right, John Utaka, Danny Webber, Hermann Hreidarsson and Michael Brown, as well as the five loanees.

That will leave Cotterill with only Hayden Mullins, Jamie Ashdown, Ricardo Rocha, Aaron Mokoena, Tal Ben-Haim, Joel Ward, Kanu, Dave Kitson and Liam Lawrence for next season.

And he insists it is vital some more players are added over the next few days.

He said: ‘We need two or three permanent signings.

‘You cannot all of a sudden end up with six experienced pros again next summer and try to put together 14 pros again. It’s ridiculous.

‘We need to do it bit by bit, which probably means we wouldn’t even be set up for the first day of pre-season.

‘Then there are normally five or six weeks before the season starts where you can still carry on trying to do some business.

‘But we need to try to get a couple over the line during this window.

‘That’s not just because we are building a club but we also want them for this season.

‘We have 19 games left to play and want to do as well as we possibly can for those 19 games in unbelievably difficult circumstances.

‘And that is what I have been saying all along through this transfer window.’

The 19 players whose contracts end this summer include those five players on loan.

Ibrahima Sonko, Carl Dickinson, Greg Halford, Jonathan Hogg and Ritchie de Laet will all return to their parent clubs after May 8.

In addition, back-up keeper Darryl Flahavan is on a month-to-month deal.

Those whose contracts expire consist of Webber, Brown, Hreidarsson, Nugent, Utaka, Richard Hughes, Marlon Pack and Tom Kilbey.

Nadir Ciftci is definitely leaving, having this week informed Cotterill he will not be signing the contract currently on the table.

Meanwhile, first-year professionals Billy Goddard, Ellis Martin, Peter Gregory and Perry Ryan await their fate at the end of their deals.

Now the hunt is on to bring in replacements, with Ipswich midfielder David Norris among the targets.

Yet while that is ongoing, other doors have been shut in Pompey’s face.

Cotterill added: ‘There is one other bid that has been knocked back and I don’t see us going back on that one.

‘They were tentative bids anyway. I didn’t think we would have got them at that figure. We just didn’t meet their valuation.

‘Hopefully there might be a couple brought in by the end of this week but that is not in my hands.

‘The search has been intensified from August in my eyes, not now. It’s just that we can only do something about it now.

‘We need a lift, we need some more bodies but I knew that in August.

‘If we could get just a few in to help it would be a bonus.’