Detailed: Where Portsmouth must strengthen in forthcoming transfer window

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The Blues signed 14 players last summer after Rich Hughes pinpoint ‘around 9-10’ new signings

His reputation is rightly enhanced, having warranted the trust and respect of the Fratton faithful, nonetheless Rich Hughes is a little more circumspect these days.

Approaching the summer of 2023, his second transfer window at the club, the sporting director publicly declared he wanted to recruit ‘around 9-10 players’.

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The ambitious statement set an important tone in the aftermath of a disappointing third successive campaign when even play-off qualification eluded, for it promised a much-needed squad rebuild.

Zak Swanson's Pompey future remains unclear - yet right-back is a position which requires strengthening. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImagesZak Swanson's Pompey future remains unclear - yet right-back is a position which requires strengthening. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages
Zak Swanson's Pompey future remains unclear - yet right-back is a position which requires strengthening. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages | Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages

‘It’s our job to work around what we must strengthen, how to add to it, and to create a bit more variation to the squad as well.

‘This summer, there’s probably going to be around 9-10 players coming into the football club, which is a good opportunity for us. That is in addition to the ones here.’

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Fast forward some 12 months and Pompey are entering the current transfer window in an excellent position.

Promoted as undisputed League One champions, with just five defeats all campaign, the bulk of that talented squad remain, providing Marlon Pack and Connor Ogilvie sign their contracts as widely anticipated, of course.

What’s more, the injury and unavailability list will have largely cleared, with every casualty expected to play some part of their pre-season fixture list, including Regan Poole.

Yet while widespread strengthening is unquestionably required, Hughes, on this occasion, has chosen against making bold transfer pledges. Not as much as an ‘overhaul’ proclaimed.

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The truth is, Pompey must recruit in every position during a window which opens on Friday (June 14). It’s a fact also acknowledged by their sporting director.

That’s 11 new faces, plus maybe another right-back, perhaps one more winger and an extra central midfielder. It leaves figures rivalling last summer’s tally of 14.

Bearing in mind John Mousinho has also spoken of wanting an increased squad of 26 this term to cope with Championship demands and fulfilling a nine-man bench, and the level of recruitment required is clearly substantial.

Certainly we still don’t know the situation with Joe Morrell and Zak Swanson, whose options haven’t been taken up - never a good sign - yet the club are willing to negotiate.

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Should Swanson depart, defensively Mousinho will need to recruit two right-backs, one central defender, one left-back and another goalkeeper, making it five at the back.

Ogilvie and Jack Sparkes may still be around, yet another left-back is essential, while without Joe Rafferty and, possibly, Swanson, there isn’t another right-back at the club.

In the centre of defence, Poole, Conor Shaughnessy, Ryley Towler and Tom McIntyre are all contracted, ensuring realistically there is space for one more - who must be a first-team challenger.

In goal, Will Norris will again be first choice, while Toby Steward is earmarked for another loan spell to maintain excellent development which saw him crowned Gosport Fans’ Player Of The Season, so another signing is needed there.

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Focusing on midfield, the wide options are presently Paddy Lane, Gavin Whyte and Anthony Scully.

Clearly at least two, maybe three additions are required, depending on how Whyte and an injury-free Scully fare during pre-season after such disappointing maiden campaigns.

The centre of midfield is currently Marlon Pack, Owen Moxon, Ben Stevenson, Tom Lowery and the versatile Terry Devlin, thereby an area in essential need of addressing ahead of the Championship.

As attacking central midfielders, there’s Callum Lang and Christian Saydee, a position which was also served by three loan players last season in Tino Anjorin, Myles Peart-Harris and Alex Robertson.

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Finally, up front are Colby Bishop and Kusini Yengi, supplemented by Saydee, albeit with none having ever featured at Championship level and another position requiring attention.

Realistically, potentially another 13 signings are needed to continue evolving this promising Pompey squad having finally returned to the Championship after a 12-year absence.

It promises to be another fascinating summer window from June 14 - irrespective of how the man overseeing the recruitment drive refers to it.

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