O'Brien pulled out of England duty

Liam O'Brien has been pulled out of England Under-19 duty in a bid to solve Pompey's goalkeeping crisis.

The 18-year-old was scheduled to fly out to France next month as part of Noel Blake's squad for the European Championship finals.

That would have left Steve Cotterill without a single keeper on his books for the pre-season programme.

It has prompted the Blues to request O'Brien – who has one cap to his name - is not included after all.

Instead, the former QPR starlet will return to training on Thursday and is likely to start the first pre-season friendly against Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday, July 10.

Cotterill said: 'We have not got a goalkeeper so I'm afraid it's something we have had to do.

'As it stands, we are desperately short of keepers in the squad and we don't know the situation with David James.

'We could be given dispensation by the Football League to sign another one even though there is an embargo.

'But at the moment we need somebody in goal so Liam will not be going off with England next month.

'We are grateful to the FA for understanding our predicament.'

Another option for Cotterill is Jon Stewart, who was at Fratton Park until the end of the 2008/09 campaign.

The former Weymouth keeper turned down a contract that summer to achieve his ambition of playing abroad.

Yet he returned at the tail-end of last season to play in the reserves for two games as a traillist.

Since then, Stewart, who is highly regarded by goalkeeping coach Dave Coles, has been offered a permanent deal – before Cotterill became manager.