Squad is shaping up - now the battle to strike an understanding starts

Erik Huseklepp on his debut at Bristol City
Erik Huseklepp on his debut at Bristol City
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Steve Cotterill eyed his Pompey squad and insisted: We’re starting to take shape.

The transfer window slammed shut last night on a quiet final day to the August window for the Blues.

Cotterill failed to make any last-minute additions, leaving him with the current first-team squad of 20 players to go into Championship battle.

The 47-year-old is looking at bringing in an emergency loan when that window opens next week.

That can supplement his options in an area where he feels he may need another body.

Cotterill warned, however, he now faces the challenge of moulding his team together in mid-season.

He admitted he was unhappy with areas of the team’s play against Cardiff on Saturday.

A factor in that, he feels, is finding the right systems and positions to get the best out of recent signings like Norwegian international Erik Huseklepp.

That’s not ideal in the cut and thrust of a league campaign but Cotterill is confident his men have the quality to bring things together quickly.

He said: ‘For what we’ve got in – when they all settle down, bed in and learn to play the football we’ve played since I have been here, –they will be fine.

‘What we have will be fine.

‘For me I have to learn where some of the lads’ best positions are. We haven’t had them in throughout pre-season.

‘I think some are trying to find their feet a bit at the moment.

‘We’ve got some good lads who have fitted in well with each other.

‘But I’ve got to find where some of the lads’ best positions are and what the best formation is with them.

‘What has happened is we haven’t had them through pre-season.

‘So you throw a different player into the starting line-up and that can change the dynamics.

‘We have to find that balance.

‘They were trying a bit too hard and forcing things on Saturday. We don’t need to force it.

‘There’s another pass in us at times. We need to settle down a bit.

‘I was a bit disappointed with how we played against Cardiff.

‘But they are getting to know each other and need a bit of time.

‘There’s no problem from our side. The lads are working hard to find out about each other.’

Cotterill has been largely happy with the form his team have shown across the first five league fixtures.

He feels their displays have deserved a greater return than the six points they currently have on the board.

The Pompey boss was happy with the opening day point at Boro but felt the other draws against Bristol City and Cardiff could have been wins with a little more luck.

Cotterill reckons the defeat to Brighton was also rough justice on his men as Liam Lawrence missed a penalty with the last kick of the game.

He said: ‘We haven’t done too badly.

‘We’ve lost one game this season when we had the better chances and missed a late penalty.

‘Otherwise we’d be unbeaten.

‘The draw we had at Boro has been a good draw and on any other God given day a draw at Bristol City is a good draw – but we felt we could have won that.

‘We didn’t really play that well on Saturday but we could have ended up winning 5-1.

‘If we had another four points we’d be well in the top six and it’s a great start.

‘So we’re the width of the post away from an excellent start as opposed to a solid start.

‘We knew the first 10 to 11 games was a difficult start.

‘We knew it was a tough start and it’s a tough month coming up.’