How Portsmouth's transfer business is shaping up | best free agents available | Danny Cowley's top priorities | budgets - it's all covered in our latest Q&A

Pompey head coach Danny Cowley is in the process of overhauling his squad following the disappointing end to this season’s promotion push.

By Mark McMahon
Monday, 24th May 2021, 6:30 pm

At present, though, focus has centred on the Blues’ out-of-contract players.

Some fresh faces have been linked with Fratton Park arrivals – including Swindon pair Scott Twine and Jack Payne – while a move for West Brom keeper Josh Griffiths has been mooted.

Yet, as we speak, there’s been little more than rumours to satisfy the Fratton faithful’s transfer appetite.

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That’s unlikely to change in the immediate future.

So in a bid to help the wait, Pompey writer Will Rooney took to our social media channels and to offer guidance into some of the burning transfer-related questions you might want answers to.

Here’s some of the highlights of what he discussed.

Q How busy to do think Pompey will be this season and what will be Danny Cowley s priority transfer-wise?

From left: Scott Twine, Josh Ginnelly, Danny Cowley, Ibou Touray, Josh Griffiths

Well, he said he wanted eight players. But when I saw that I thought he’d need more, it’s very conservative.

As we know there’s 13 under contract. Take away Ronan Curtis, maybe, who looks like will exit the club, and that’s 12.

If you are going to work to a 22-man squad next season, you then need 10 players in – two for every position.

Then you’ve the young ones who are going to be supplementing the squad from non-league.

Obviously, Liam Vincent is one player we know they’ve got their eye on and have held talks with, so you could be looking at 10 or 12 players.

It is an overhaul, while we don’t know if there’s going to be players who are currently under contract and not in Cowley’s plans.

It’s going to be a busy one when things start.

Midfield will definitely be a position he needs to get bodies through the door. They don’t have one under contract at the moment.

Two centre-backs, you’d probably say, are needed. A left-back, definitely, to come in and challenge Lee Brown – someone a little bit younger, energetic and with a bit more verve about them.

Then you are looking a wingers, someone to replace Curtis. And then a striker – someone different to John Marquis and Marcus Harrison, maybe a bit of a target man but someone who has goals in them as well.

There’s going to be players coming in all over the pitch, really.

Q Each position has different requirements, but what type of player will Cowley be interested in? Is character key?

Cowley wants people who are willing to learn and improve themselves – characters he can impart his knowledge on and who will buy into what he wants.

Also, someone who has a bit of a resale value, who will help the club in the future, potentially.

Scott Twine fits that category – someone they can hone and maybe sell on for a profit.

I wouldn’t bet against them, though, bringing in a little bit of experience as well because they know they might need that.

With Tom Naylor leaving, that’s one bit of experience gone.

For the main part, I’d say it’s going to be early/mid-20 players who are really hungry to learn and improve, and hopefully move the club forward because it’s been in League One for far too long now.

Also, players who are capable of stepping up into the Championship.

You’ve got to have one eye on that because there's no point in recruiting players who can only get you out of League One.

Q There'll be less money to work with if we forget last season's salary cap - a budget that can be added to of course by sales - is that a cause for concern? Can Pompey realistically improve with less money?

The league table doesn’t usually lie when it comes down to budgets.

But then we’ve seen sides like Wycombe go up, Accrington punch well above their weight, Coventry when they won the league – so it (having a successful season on tight finances) can be done.

Again, look at Lincoln. I can’t imagine they’ve got a massive budget.

So sometimes it’s just about getting your recruitment right and your coaching right and building on that momentum.

Don’t get me wrong, you’d rather have a bigger budget than a smaller one. But I dare say, Danny Cowley, when he took the job, would have known what his budget would have been for this season and he’s quite happy with that.

He’s got to work with it and there’s no point crowing about it, because he didn’t have to take the job.

He’s happy with it, so let’s see what he can do with it.

Q The majority of Pompey's business will centre around free transfers. Is there's scope for Pompey to make the most of that?

To be fair, Pompey have signed some cracking players who have been out of contract in the past.

Under Kenny Jackett, you can think of Craig MacGillivray, Lee Brown, Tom Naylor. Under Paul Cook there was the likes of Enda Stevens, Gareth Evans.

Because they’re free agents doesn’t mean anything.

It’s the nature of lower-league football – and if you look at some of the players who are out of contract now, there’s a lot of players who you would fancy to come to Fratton Park.

So I don’t think free transfers is anything to really worry about.

It happens all the time and I’d be quite happy to see who comes in.

There’s some good names out there and names who would fit the bill for Danny Cowley.

Q Have any possible realistic freebies caught your eye?

You can of course rule out players from Sunderland – Charlie Wyke, Luke O’Nien. There’s no chance of them coming to Fratton Park, players who would likely go to the Championship.

But players like Scott Twine, Randell Williams at Exeter, Connor Ogilvie, who Steve Evans called the best left-back in the league, the lad at Salford, Ibou Touray – a left-back who was in the League Two team of the year and who you’d think would want to kick on.

And then, naturally, you’re drawn to some players who have played under Danny Cowley – Josh Ginnelly, the Preston midfielder who has been on loan at Hearts, Harry Anderson at Lincoln.

Those sort of players certainly catch the eye, while, obviously, there’s ones like Jordan Graham, who has left Gillingham and goalkeeper Jack Bonham – a player you would love to have. But these are players who, realistically, will want to move to the Championship.

But there are, nevertheless, a lot of free agents who fit the bill for Pompey.

Q Is there money to spend on transfer fees?

I don’t know what the budget is, but it’s up to Danny Cowley to use it right.

I remember at his first press conference in March he talked about Sean Raggett, He said, when at Lincoln, Raggett cost about £40,000 and that was a big chunk of their budget at the time.

But they thought it was worth it because they knew he was a good player and would make them a lot of money in the future.

They took the chance on him and it worked, ending up selling him to Norwich for a lot more than what they paid originally.

So just because we know Pompey are working on a lesser budget doesn’t mean that Cowley might not be prepared to buy players and dip into some of his funds.

If he thinks it will pay off in the future, then I think he’d be quite happy to spend some of it.