The Blues boss is targeting four new additions to maintain the encouraging climb up the League One table.
Certainly he regards that as a ‘realistic’ ambition as he strives to bolster a squad whose lack of depth was once again glaringly exposed on Saturday.
Pompey were on the receiving end of a 2-1 home humbling at the hands of League Two Harrogate Town in the second round of the FA Cup.
With team selection impacted by a sickness bug which has swept through the camp, it was a lacklustre showing which halted a heartening nine-match unbeaten run.
Cowley is adamant that impressive streak had not distracted him from the work required when the transfer window reopens.
And he will set about it with relish – centering on recruiting four fresh faces.
Pompey’s head coach told The News: ‘I don’t need reminding that we need players in January. Even during our nine-match run, I hadn’t forgotten.
‘I know exactly where we’re at, what our shortcomings are, and exactly what we need to do.
‘Realistically, which is probably an important word, I would like four players.
‘If we could bring four in then that would be helpful. Could that happen? I don’t know.
‘Looking at us on Saturday, it wasn’t a balanced team, the midfield wasn’t ideal. There are some reasons for that (illness), but I don’t think anyone cares for excuses.
‘We wanted to win the game, but we couldn't afford to draw.
‘At this point, we haven’t got the squad to be able to play more matches. We haven’t got the player availability to be able to cope with more games.’
Pompey were without George Hirst and Joe Morrell against Harrogate, both sidelined by bugs not connected with Covid.
Elsewhere, Louis Thompson was injured, with a total of nine changes to the side which defeated Gillingham at the death the previous weekend.
And Cowley reflected on a below-par showing which cost the Blues a potentially money-spinning presence in the third round.
He added: ‘It was disappointing. In the second half particularly, I didn’t think we played with enough energy and intensity, and enough drive.
‘In the first half we created some chances, some good chances. In the second half, not as many.
‘We were very open in the last 10 minutes, both teams were counter-attacking, going end-to-end and I just thought Harrogate earned their luck and we didn’t.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
You can support our local team of expert Pompey writers by subscribing here for all the latest news from Fratton Park for 14p a day.