Five stars: the under-21 starlets that could bolster Portsmouth's League One promotion push

It’s a summer transfer window where clubs may need to be astute about their business.
Aston Villa's Jacob Ramsey impressed on loan at Doncaster. Picture: Alex Burstow/Getty ImagesAston Villa's Jacob Ramsey impressed on loan at Doncaster. Picture: Alex Burstow/Getty Images
Aston Villa's Jacob Ramsey impressed on loan at Doncaster. Picture: Alex Burstow/Getty Images

With a salary cap potentially being implemented for the upcoming season, it's going to change clubs’ tack how they go about their recruitment.

Pompey will be allowed just 22 senior players, with a wage ceiling of £2.5m.

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However, players under 21 will be exempt and chief executive Mark Catlin admitted that’s the market the Blues may have to focus on.

Callum Morton, on loan from West Brom, celebrates scoring for Northampton in the League Two play-off final. Picture: David Rogers/Getty ImagesCallum Morton, on loan from West Brom, celebrates scoring for Northampton in the League Two play-off final. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images
Callum Morton, on loan from West Brom, celebrates scoring for Northampton in the League Two play-off final. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

He said: ‘Although with under-21s exempt, we’ll have to focus heavily on the under-21 market – and will adapt our market accordingly.’

On portsmouth.co.uk earlier this week, we compiled a long list of youngsters who might be available.

Now we’ve whittled it down to five, assessing the areas of Kenny Jackett’s squad that appear to need strengthening.

Callum Morton - West Brom

Everton's Lewis Gibson spent the second half of the season on loan at Fleetwood. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty ImagesEverton's Lewis Gibson spent the second half of the season on loan at Fleetwood. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Everton's Lewis Gibson spent the second half of the season on loan at Fleetwood. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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The striker well and truly stole the show in the League Two play-offs for Northampton.

Morton underlined the qualities that made plenty of people sit up and take note during his loan spell at Sixfields.

He was full of energy, tenacious and looks destined to play higher up the pyramid.

Morton bagged a double in the Cobblers’ 3-0 win at Cheltenham in the semi-final second leg which took them to Wembley.

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He then applied a superb finish to bag Northampton’s second goal in the 4-0 romp over Exeter at the national stadium.

On 31 minutes, Morton reacted quickly to a header to open up his body and send a side-footed volley into the corner of the net.

With Brett Pitman and Oli Hawkins both leaving Fratton Park, Pompey look a body light in the striking department.

With West Brom promoted to the Premier League, Morton’s likely to head out on loan again and gain more first-team experience.

He’d add competition to Ellis Harrison and John Marquis.

Lewis Gibson - Everton

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Central defence is an area that needs addressing following the departures of Christian Burgess and Sean Raggett.

A natural left-footed centre-back would be ideal for Pompey given they haven’t had that attribute since Matt Clarke left last summer.

Gibson had his first taste of senior football when he joined Fleetwood on loan in January.

Well thought of at Goodison Park, it was a step up the England under-20 international was ready for.

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Gibson became a regular for the Cod Army, making 14 appearances as Joey Barton’s side suffered play-off semi-final defeat to Wycombe.

The former Newcastle man reportedly will leave the Toffees temporarily against next term. Although Fleetwood could again show interest, Everton may feel the pressures of playing at Fratton Park on a consistent basis would prove more beneficial for his development.

Conor Coventry – West Ham

With hopes of landing Cameron McGeehan diminishing, Jackett may be on the lookout for another holding midfielder to boost competition.

Coventry joined Lincoln during the January transfer window. While he’d made a couple of appearances for the Hammers in the League Cup, his move to the Imps was his maiden taste of sustained first-team football.

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The 20-year-old has spoken about how much his time working under Michael Appleton helped his game as he made eight appearances before the suspension of the season.

Since returning to West Ham, Coventry has twice been an unused substitute in the Premier League, which suggests he’s rated by manager David Moyes.

After having his time in League One cut short, the Republic of Ireland under-21 international might be keen to gain more experience away from the Hammers.

Jacob Ramsey – Aston Villa

If it’s an attack-minded midfielder that Pompey were keen on then Ramsey could be the player to turn to.

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The 19-year-old certainly demonstrated his threat going forward after moving to Doncaster on loan during the second half of the campaign.

Ramsey scored three goals in just eight appearances, with Donny boss Darren Moore believing there was still plenty more to come from the youngster before the Covid-19 outbreak.

Sections of supporters still feel that Jackett has never quite got the No10 role right during his time in charge.

Ramsey could be the answer to that problem, although Villa may look to keep hold of him if relegated to the Championship.

Alex Cochrane – Brighton

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A player that Pompey fans have come to know about quite a lot in recent weeks.

It’s understood that Cochrane is on the Blues’ radar as they bid to bolster their left-back options.

The 20-year-old has made a big impression at the Seagulls since returning from lockdown, having been called up to the first-team fray.

He was named on the bench in their goalless draw with Newcastle on Monday night and could well be given some minutes when Brighton bring the curtain down on their season at Burnley on Sunday.

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Cochrane’s a solid, all-round left-sided defender who’s now ready for the step up to senior football.

Former Pompey Academy coach Mikey Harris reckons he’ll be more than capable of coping, having worked with Cochrane in the youth ranks at the Amex.