Five players whose futures might require a Portsmouth rethink

It’s back to the drawing board for Kenny Jackett when it comes to plotting this summer’s recruitment drive.

Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 5:30 pm

The Pompey boss has admitted the coronavirus crisis has decimated previous plans he had in place before football shut down.

Targets had previously been identified, scout reports compiled and agents had been contacted.

But given the precarious economic situation that lies ahead, with games set to go behind closed doors, leaving a massive hole in the Blues’ balance sheet, it’s effectively tossed well-thought plans up in the air.

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Substantial transfer fees look highly unlikely, as do long-term contracts – meaning there’s a slim chance of similar deals to the ones which brought both John Marquis and Marcus Harness to Fratton Park last summer will be brokered.

While Jackett hasn’t ruled out potential fresh faces who’d been earmarked being coaxed to Fratton Park in the future, for now, they’ll be placed on the backburner.

Likewise, several players who could have been preparing for the exit door may also have their time at the club extended longer than they’d expected.

Here’s those current Pompey players who may have to alter their plans as football adjusts...

Paul Downing and Gareth Evans.

Paul Downing

It would have been in the interest of all parties for the centre-back to move on given the tough time he’s experienced at Fratton Park since arriving last summer.

Despite signing a three-year contract and being first-choice centre-half during pre-season, Downing has found himself firmly out of Jackett’s plans.

He hasn’t featured in the league since September and has persistently been left out of match-day squads.

In truth, a fresh start would have suited both parties.

Downing would have wanted regular action elsewhere, while Pompey would have got someone who likely earns a decent wage off their books.

Now both may be forced to change tack, however,

The Blues may be unable to find a suitable replacement, especially if Christian Burgess was to leave at the end of his contract and a permanent deal for Sean Raggett was unable to be agreed.

Meanwhile, there may not be sides who would have the funds to sign Downing.

Gareth Evans

The fans’ favourite would be forgiven if he’d recently been reluctantly mulling over ending his five-year association with the Blues.

Evans has found opportunities difficult to come by this campaign, being reduced to a support-act role.

While he’s bagged five goals in 27 outings, the ex-Bradford man has featured just 10 times from the outset in the third tier this season.

In Pompey’s past 12 league matches, Evans recorded just 58 minutes action in total and was omitted from six match-day squads.

Having recently turned 32, he’s now entered his twilight years and could have begun exploring his options of being a prominent player elsewhere.

But with a year remaining on his contract, Jackett may well block Evans’ potential departure to ensure a reliable, versatile performer remains at PO4.

Craig MacGillivray

The keeper’s situation would have likely put a number of clubs on high alert.

MacGillivray hasn’t played a league game since December 29, having been dropped for Alex Bass at Gillingham on New Year’s Day and confined to the No2 role since.

The Scot played a support-act role at Walsall and Shrewsbury and undoubtedly will feel his career has gone full circle after a fine maiden campaign at Pompey in 2018-19.

In usual circumstances, it wouldn’t be a surprise if there were clubs interested in lodging a bid for MacGillivray and trying to prise him away from Fratton Park.

After all, he was linked with Rangers, Birmingham and Huddersfield in December.

It would take a sizeable bid for Pompey to agree to sell MacGillivray, though, and potential suitors may now not have the funds to do so.

Bryn Morris

Pompey were willing to allow the midfielder to depart last summer, with enquiries from clubs made.

And after an injury-hit season this term, both the Blues and Morris will have been thinking a move elsewhere would have been ideal.

Indeed, despite Morris overcoming a long-term abdomen problem, he still faces a battle to force his way into Jackett’s plans.

Recruitment from every club will have to be spot on during the next window, with scant room for error.

There would be a degree of risk if clubs were to sign Morris given his problems this campaign, which may mean a lack of interest.

Oli Hawkins

There's hope that short-term deals for out-of-contract players to finish the season with their current clubs will be handed out.

Hawkins will be a free agent when his deal does eventually expire, but he won’t exactly be entering the free-agent market in the usual climate where he can pick the destination he feels is best.

While the prospect of more game time elsewhere will be something he’ll factor in, the terms he’s offered will be another.

Should Jackett feel he’s got a suitable back-up striker and offer him a year-long extension, it could be better than what Hawkins is tabled elsewhere.