David James: Pompey must address goalkeeping dilemma

Pompeys five goalkeepers last season, from left: Brian Murphy, Aaron McCarey, Ryan Fulton, Paul Jones, Ryan Allsop   Pictures: Joe Pepler
Pompeys five goalkeepers last season, from left: Brian Murphy, Aaron McCarey, Ryan Fulton, Paul Jones, Ryan Allsop Pictures: Joe Pepler
Pompey fans enjoyed a 2-1 win on their last visit to the Memorial Stadium. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Pompey must address their goalkeeping dilemma by signing someone they can depend upon.

That’s the view of Blues hero and former stopper David James, who has called for an end to the rotation between the sticks at Fratton Park.

Paul Cook’s side used five different goalkeepers in their failed League Two promotion bid last term – a Football League high.

Brian Murphy began the campaign as Cook’s first choice but started less than half (24) of Pompey’s 56 game-season before being released by Cook last month.

Paul Jones – the Blues’ only survivor of the quintet – made 11 starting line-ups in an injury-hit campaign which also saw him loaned out to League Two rivals Crawley.

Loan trio Aaron McCarey (six), Ryan Fulton (13) and Ryan Allsop (two) were also handed playing time – with Academy stopper Alex Bass finding himself on the bench on 32 occasions.

In contrast, Northampton keeper Adam Smith played every minute of the Cobblers’ title-winning campaign.

But while Pompey FA Cup winner James does not necessarily adhere to the opinion that continuity is crucial to performance, he believes Cook needs to fix the problem position by signing a fit and able stopper.

‘Going forward, Pompey need to sign up one goalkeeper and keep them fit,’ said James.

‘There can then be some back-up found within the Academy.

‘Is continuity crucial to performance? Yes and no.

‘As a manager, I did rotate goalkeepers in India at Kerala Blasters – that was depending on the person.

‘If a team understands they have got two slightly different goalkeepers who are both capable in their own right, then different opposition might enforce you to choose different goalkeepers.

‘But five in one season is too many – that is a lot of rotation.’

Earlier this month James revealed to The News he would have answered Pompey’s goalkeeping SOS by coming out of retirement for the Blues’ play-off showdown with Plymouth Argyle.

As it was, Cook opted for the emergency loan signing of third-choice Bournemouth stopper Allsop, who failed to impress as his new club suffered last-minute agony at the hands of the Pilgrims.

Forty-five-year-old James watched on, frustrated his old club were unable to see the job through.

He added: ‘I thought Portsmouth were going to do it this year – I thought we were going to get there.

‘It is frustrating because we all want Portsmouth to get promoted and back up into the big time but there is a level of consistency that is needed.

‘There has probably been too much rotation in the squad, perhaps – it is still difficult times in that sense.

‘But it is not overly bad at all. I’m still optimistic for the future.’