The News’ Pompey writers take a look at where Paul Cook needs to strengthen in order to have a squad capable of winning promotion next season.
We kick-off with Jeff Marshman’s thoughts, with Jordan Cross and Neil Allen to follow..
Both ends of the field.
That’s where I think Pompey need to strengthen most over the summer, with goalkeeper and striker the two most pressing positions of concern.
For the Blues to have used five different men between the posts this season – and ending the campaign with an emergency loanee in goal – tells its own story.
Following the release of Brian Murphy, who played more games (25) as keeper than any of the other four – Paul Jones, Aaron McCarey, Ryan Fulton and Ryan Allsop – Paul Cook now has to find someone he can truly call his No1.
Impressively, Pompey faced the fewest shots of any side in English football this term – 330 – which begs the question of what might have been achieved with a settled, quality keeper facing them.
My suggestion would be the club use some of the Adam Webster-generated cash to snare a long-term option for the role – if none are available in the free-agent market.
The Blues are a big enough draw for Championship back-up keepers or League One starters to be interested and there are a number out there who would do well.
Stephen Henderson at Charlton stands out and would welcome a return but may prove too expensive.
Chesterfield’s Tommy Lee has worked with Cook before but last year signed an extended deal, while local boy Simon Moore is too good to just sit on the bench at Cardiff, especially aged 26.
Aside from that, Burnley have just released Matt Gilks, although Hearts are said to be closing in on him, while ex-Blues stopper Simon Eastwood is another option after his Blackburn exit.
Up front, the equation is far more straightforward for me.
Get Caolan Lavery and Marc McNulty in and pair them together.
That’s easier said than done, though!
Lavery, out of favour at the Owls, is understood to be out of contract in the summer but there may be complications over whether his parent club can tie him to a new deal – therefore attracting a fee.
McNulty looked a good bet for a Blues return having not taken Blades boss Nigel Adkins’ fancy.
But following Adkins’ sacking, the word from new man Chris Wilder is that the Scotsman is part of his plans.
Whether a decent offer may deem otherwise remains to be seen.
But with Matt Tubbs and Adam McGurk on their way out and Conor Chaplin the club’s only recognised striker, more firepower is required to finally clinch promotion.
– JEFF MARSHMAN