Danny Cowley's Portsmouth squad admission as he braces himself for some sad farewells at Sheffield Wednesday

Danny Cowley refuses to surrender his ambition to retain his Pompey stars.

Friday, 29th April 2022, 4:55 am

Yet the Blues boss concedes some of his first-team will feature for the last time in Saturday’s League One finale at Sheffield Wednesday.

Pompey’s strong end to the season has been ‘automatic promotion form’ according to Cowley, who has reiterated his desire to keep top performers.

Realistically, Gavin Bazunu has played his last game, while Mahlon Romeo is expected to return to the Championship and Tyler Walker hasn’t worked out.

Pompey accept they cannot capture George Hirst and Hayden Carter on permanent deals, instead they hope to secure the pair’s return on loan.

The News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Season Sean Raggett is out of contract, while, encouragingly, Marcus Harness, Louis Thompson and Michael Jacobs have club options.

Regardless, the Fratton faithful will be bidding farewell to some Pompey regulars – and favourites – at Hillsborough.

Cowley told The News: ‘Keeping this squad together is the challenge.

The Pompey future of The News/Sports Mail's Player of the Season Sean Raggett is uncertain with his contract expiring. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages

‘I believe in this football club, it’s a great club, I think it's a brilliant place for people to play football, and, once the players have lived it like they have this season, they get to understand exactly how special this club is.

‘Of course there are one or two that it will probably be difficult for us to keep, but we’re Portsmouth Football Club so anything should be possible for us.

‘I don’t know if we can keep them all, talks are ongoing.

‘We’ve got some loans due to go back which we’d like to sign permanently, we’ve got some loans that if we can’t sign permanently we’d like to extend with another loan deal.

‘We have some players with options on their contracts that we’d like to take up - and also one or two out of contract that we’d like to offer new terms to.

‘The success we’ve had in the past has always been about continuity, because once you build relationships and start to understand each other and how each other work, then you can really grow and develop from there.

‘If we can keep the majority of the group together, maybe 15-17, then we are only adding 5-8.

‘Among those, if we can add a bit of pace and power, one-v-one domination at the top end of the pitch, a bit more goal threat, a set-piece taker, and a bit of leadership, then we’ll have a really balanced squad to start next season.’

Pompey have taken 35 points from 18 matches since the January transfer window closed, averaging an impressive 1.94 points per game.

They are also unbeaten in the last 10 matches at Fratton Park, winning eight of them, while scoring three goals or more on eight occasions during that period.

Cowley added: ‘It has been automatic promotion form.

‘We hope we have the foundations here, that’s why we want to try to keep as much of the group together as possible.

‘And it’s going to be an important summer trying to do that.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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