Danny Cowley, manager of Portsmouth. (Photo by Jacques Feeney/Getty Images)
Pompey currently find themselves ninth in League One, six points of the play-off places, and the 43-year-old will be eager to add the injection of quality his squad needs to catapult themselves firmly into the promotion picture.
With more than half of the transfer window already gone, the Blues have so far welcomed Blackburn Rovers loanee Hayden Carter and Coventry City striker Tyler Walker to Fratton Park.
Meanwhile, Cowley has offloaded Ellis Harrison, Paul Downing, and loanees Gassan Ahadme and Miguel Azeez, while John Marquis has sealed a switch to League One rivals Lincoln City.
But where do Pompey’s transfer hopes currently lie?
We’ve gathered up every clue the boss has given in recent weeks to try and deduce what we can expect at Fratton Park over the coming days...
On his growing optimism
Above all else, Cowley seems hopeful that his side can start to bring in new talent sooner rather than later.
He told The News: “We are working really hard, trying to make the team better, to make the squad better.
“We still live with the ambition of trying to leave this window in a better place than how we went into it, nothing has changed.
“I’m careful to give you numbers on how many we want, we know it’s not a straightforward science in the January transfer window.
“I live in hope we’ll get one in before the end of the week. I am actually very hopeful.
“We know what we need, it is clearer than ever and it gets clearer by the day, but we have to make it happen.
“I have full confidence we can do it, we are working really, really hard. It is never straightforward when you have to move players out to move them in.
“We have done really, really well with the outs, which has created some finance. We might need a little more financially to do exactly what we want to do, but we’re working on it.
“I am going to smile to your face, that is how confident I am that we can improve this team in this window!”
On the need to be patient
But despite his optimism, Cowley has made it clear that he is willing to be patient to ensure that his side bring in the right players.
“We don’t want to settle for second best,” told HampshireLive.
“We are really, really focused and motivated to try to find the very best players for Portsmouth Football Club with the finance we have available and I’m not willing to settle for second best, I never have done and I never will do.
“That sometimes means that we have to be a little more patient. Certainly, there is something we would like to do, it is complex. Is it possible, maybe?
“I do think that if we can achieve it, it could make a significant difference to us but is obviously not quite straight forward.
“Unfortunately, it is a little bit like in life, the best things in life are worth waiting for and certainly the best things in life, you just have to work a little bit harder for, that is where we find ourselves.”
On the need to recruit a goalscorer
At the time of writing, only four teams have scored fewer goals than Portsmouth in League One this season.
The hope will be that Walker’s arrival can go some way to remedying that issue, and Cowley has been fully aware of the need to bring in a player capable of helping his side find the back of the net more often for some time now.
As quoted by HampshireLive, he said: “We would like to add more goals, for sure. We’ve carried a real threat on the counter-attack in recent games. We’ve turned the ball over in the opposition’s half more than any team in the country I believe, but we haven’t been able to turn those moments into goals.
“It’s definitely an area we’ll try to add to, and you can do that through work on the training ground but also through adding to your playing personnel.
“January will be interesting and we probably have to move out before we can move in. We’ll have to see what the window does.”
Indeed, speaking after Walker’s arrival, Cowley said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be able to bring Tyler to Portsmouth Football Club.
“It’s something that we’ve been working on for quite some time and didn’t think it was going to be possible.
“I have probably spoken to his agent more than I’ve spoken to my wife over the past couple of months!”
On how many players Portsmouth want to sign
Cowley isn’t just on the lookout for a new hitman, however, and has made it clear in recent weeks that he wants to add several fresh talents in January.
Speaking in early December, he said: “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.”
More specifically, speaking in early January, Cowley suggested that he wanted to make two permanent signings, as well as addressing the funds available to him.
As quoted by The News, he said: “We’ve got a clear budget, the owners from the moment we arrived at the club have always given us complete clarity.
“They have been incredibly supportive – and it’s our job always to find the very best value for the finances we have available.
“We’d like two permanent players, whether we can or not, time will tell. There’s a huge motivation to make it happen. When there’s a will, there is always a way.”
On the need to offload players
Cowley has also been open about the need to free up space in his squad before he can make new additions, however.
Speaking on December 15th, he outline Pompey’s one-in-one-out stance.
He said: “We know what we want and what we need.
“But we know players will have to go out for us to bring players in.
“We’re working hard to sign the right players who can help the team between now and the end of the season, but also beyond.
“We’re on a journey. You want players to come in and hit the ground running, but that’s not easy.”
Just before the New Year, Cowley raised the matter again, adding: “Our transfer business does hinge on one out before getting one in – and our aim is to try to come out of this transfer window in a better place than when we went in.
“We anticipate there will be departures in January.
“We have a number of players out of contract this summer and, if we are in a position in January where we don’t think we are going to offer them new contracts, then I will have that honest conversation with them.”
On the potential for January success
Ultimately though, the Pompey manager has reiterated his hopes for a fruitful January window that can help elevate his side to the next level.
He told The News: “In the industry we are in, we can only recruit at two times in a year, so whenever those times come around we have to make the most of them.
“Everyone says January is a tough time to recruit, maybe, but if you recruit intelligently you can be very successful in this period.
“I understand where the trepidation comes after previous January transfer windows in recent times at this football club, but it’s very much a new regime, a new way of working.
“Let’s hope we can be a little more successful.
“In an ideal world we’d like to bring in one or two permanent players as we’re conscious that in the summer we have a number out of contract and don’t want to be in the same position as we were last summer when we had too much to do.”
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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