Paul Cook has warned his Pompey squad: I’m prepared to show my ruthless side.
The Blues boss assembled the majority of his squad in the summer with an extensive overhaul of the players.
It’s a fair assumption that players I brought in over the summer might be leavingPaul Cook
But Cook has admitted that even players he signed himself in recent months could find themselves on their way out as he sets about improving his squad during the January transfer window.
Cook has made it clear he is keen to trim the ranks and believes he now has too many players on the staff, despite a clutch of recent injuries.
But while the Pompey boss is still looking to reduce his numbers to work with fewer players, he still wants to add more quality.
Cook said: ‘The bigger picture is that the squad will still be reduced.
‘Lads need to go out and play football.
‘I’m not going to keep lads around that are not going to play.
‘But we’re still looking to improve the squad in January.
‘It’s a fair assumption that players I brought in over the summer might be leaving.
‘We had to put a squad together and we’ve done that. Now is the time to start managing it.
‘There is a bit of ruthlessness. I have to keep the gloves off.
‘There has to be – we have underachieved for too long.
‘Everyone, in general, has been given an opportunity – apart from Ben Close.’
Of Cook’s summer recruits, Adam Barton and Kal Naismith – who joined Hartlepool on a month’s loan last week – are perhaps the only senior players who have not featured regularly in matchday squads, although both have had injury problems.
James Dunne, who was already on the staff before Cook’s arrival, looks likely to depart and is out on loan at Dagenham & Redbridge.
But there may be others who could yet be deemed as surplus to requirements before January rolls around.
Cook said: ‘When you are at club like Portsmouth, if you don’t fear for your place in the squad, there is something wrong.
‘Lads have a habit down here of becoming too comfortable.
‘It’s a lovely part of the country, Gunwharf has nice restaurants and life is good.
‘If we don’t have success, you won’t be eating in Gunwharf – you will be eating somewhere else.
‘People must prove they are worth their place in the team.
‘So it’s important I shuffle the pack.
‘You’ve got to remember it’s an honour to play for this club. That’s how I look at it.
‘Lads have got to accept that.
‘When you go on the pitch, you must be prepared to go an extra percentage – and that’s not a criticism of anyone going out on loan.
‘But it’s not about just wearing a Portsmouth tracksuit, you’ve got to play for Portsmouth.
‘That comes with a little bit of pressure.’