Coventry preparing sensational move for Pompey’s Conor Chaplin

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COVENTRY have targeted Conor Chaplin for a summer switch.

The News understands the 21-year-old is earmarked to replace Marc McNulty when his move to Reading is finally completed.

Pompey forward Conor Chaplin

Pompey forward Conor Chaplin

The Sky Blues yesterday turned down the Royals’ latest bid for last season’s 28-goal striker.

However, McNulty is desperate to join the Championship club and is pushing to be allowed a Madejski Stadium transfer.

Coventry boss Mark Robins is holding out for a fee closer to £1m, yet it seems only a matter of time before a compromise is reached.

In the meantime, Chaplin has been lined-up to fill the gulf left by McNulty’s inevitable departure.

Marc McNulty scored 28 goals for Coventry last season

Marc McNulty scored 28 goals for Coventry last season

Having entered the final 12 months of his Fratton Park contract, the move represents a fading opportunity to cash in on the Academy graduate.

Chaplin’s chances of regular first-team football have long been a concern to the youngster, with the scenario unlikely to improve this season.

Jackett himself has frequently voiced the need for the forward to have more first-team opportunities in his career, yet clearly that will not happen with the Blues.

He made only 13 starts in Jackett’s maiden Fratton Park campaign, while featured just three times in the final 11 fixtures.

Perhaps most crushing of all for Chaplin, he failed to make the 18-man squad in two of the last eight matches, despite being fit.

Of his 121 outings for the club so far, 85 have arrived from the bench, yet he still has managed 25 goals.

The Sky Blues are well aware of the Worthing talent’s potential, with skipper Michael Doyle a huge fan of his former team-mate and recommending him to boss Robins.

Tom Davies, Liam O’Brien and McNulty can also testify to Chaplin’s ability, having been Blues playing colleagues at times.

While the transfer situation is playing out, Chaplin has continued to train with Pompey, attending their six-day pre-season tour in Ireland.

He netted two superb second-half goals in the 4-1 victory over Cork City on Monday night  in Jackett’s opening summer friendly.

The second, in particular, was superb, struck left-footed from outside the box, to complete the Turner’s Cross scoreline.

It once again emphasised the finishing talents of Chaplin, who made his Pompey debut in December 2014 against Accrington Stanley.

Despite his effectiveness in front of goal, a settled presence in the starting line-up has continued to elude him under Paul Cook and now Jackett.

But Coventry are eager to step in and provide that opportunity - although it hinges on whether McNulty’s Reading transfer can be thrashed out.

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COMMENT: An inevitable Pompey exit – but one viewed with a heavy heart