Guy sets his transfer targets high

Patrick Agyemang has already committed himself to Pompey for the next two years
Patrick Agyemang has already committed himself to Pompey for the next two years
Charlton midfielder Ahmed Kashi

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Guy Whittingham has targeted recruiting 15 players by the return to pre-season training on June 27.

It’s an ambitious tally which has already seen massive inroads made during a busy past week.

What’s more, the Blues boss is eager to reach that figure as early as possible this summer as his rebuilding programme gathers pace.

Winger Matty Blair will today sign for Pompey, alongside what could be three other new arrivals.

Patrick Agyemang and Phil Smith – who were part of this season’s squad – penned deals last week, while Simon Eastwood, Dan Butler and Yassin Moutaouakil are expected to follow suit.

The Blues ended the current campaign with only three players contracted to the club – Jed Wallace, Adam Webster and Ashley Harris.

By the end of this week, though, Whittingham could have another nine bodies in the squad recruited on permanent deals.

The Pompey manager is eager to strengthen – and in a hurry.

He said: ‘We are trying to get things done early so we can get the ones we want but, as in most cases, there are others targeting them (the players) as well so there is competition out there.

‘We know there are going to be lots of players available July/August time but we want to get our main targets now if we possibly can.

‘We are coming from a position where we have got three players from the end of the season, so we have got to go out there and find at least 15 players who have got experience at this level.

‘That is a tough task and why we are trying to work hard over the first three or four weeks of the close season so we can get 14 or 15 in by the start of pre-season.

‘There are some very good free transfers out there, but if they are free transfers we are not the only ones interested.

‘We will put our hat in and hope coming down here and playing in front of passionate fans at Fratton Park will convince them it’s worth maybe taking a cut in wages and go back up that way and be part of the rebuild of this football club.

‘We have got to make sure, if we are getting youngsters, they are hungry for it.

‘It is going to be an exciting side but they have to be prepared to work hard.

‘I think it’s important to have a little bit of experience in this league, especially when you can find ones who have been in and around promotion campaigns from League Two to League One.

‘You have got the five development group lads so we are looking to have a squad of around 18 first-team players.

‘But if we can have 14 to 15 by the start of pre-season I will be quite happy.’

As part of his recruitment drive, Whittingham has been scouring the Championship market for youngsters released by their clubs.

Ideally, he wants the young and hungry who have already experienced loan spells in the League Two environment.

In addition, they can form the base of his side for many years to come, as well as possessing a resale value.

They will join a set-up already equipped with teenagers Harris, Webster, Dan Butler and Wallace – in addition to the development group.

But among the youth there has also got to be experience.

‘Within the budget we have got targets we want who we know can do a good job at this level and the next level up,’ added Whittingham.

‘People we bring in will be a mixture of ages.

‘We are not against bringing younger players in because, if they improve with us, we can keep them for two or three years and hopefully keep the main part of our squad together as we try to build and go up the leagues.

‘Resale has always got to be a thought in your mind.

‘We have to try to find players who will be an asset to us looking further forward and that means casting your eyes into the long-term.’