LATEST: The Portsmouth window state of play as wait for signings goes on and Wigan Athletic, Plymouth Argyle, Bolton Wanderers, Sunderland, Lincoln City & Co do their business

It’s a perfectly natural reaction from a Pompey supporter’s vantage point.

By Jordan Cross
Friday, 14th January 2022, 12:23 pm
Updated Friday, 14th January 2022, 12:25 pm
From left, Cameron Archer, Hayden Carter, Kyle Wootton and Liam Cullen.
From left, Cameron Archer, Hayden Carter, Kyle Wootton and Liam Cullen.

Those who watch Danny Cowley’s team, like their boss, can see where their side’s deficiencies lie at the season’s halfway stage.

And, therefore, it’s pretty clear to them where the transfer focus should be, as we approach the middle of what has already been a pretty lively League One transfer window.

The defence is looking resolute and is in an impressive spell of five league fixtures without shipping a goal.

Even with Miguel Azeez’s impending exit, the midfield is looking well stocked, certainly in terms of quality - with players returning in both of those departments.

But what about the forward line? How about looking at that troublesome area of the pitch, which hasn’t looked right from day one?

The early concerns about that imbalance in Cowley’s squad this season have proved well founded.

Pompey have conceded 22 league goals - only bettered by Wigan and Rotherham. But they’ve scored 28 - only the bottom three and Shrewsbury have struggled more.

So the response in some quarters to Pompey chasing a young Championship defender of promise in Hayden Carter is understandable, if perhaps a little misguided.

‘So this is the man who’s going to score the goals to get us to the play-offs,’ came the sarcasm-drenched retort to news of Cowley’s interest in the Blackburn prospect yesterday.

It’s a right-sided defender along with a front man which is the priority for the Blues head coach this month.

But it’s been a fair while since Notts County striker Kyle Wootton was mentioned at the end of November.

It’s worth mentioning, although an admirer, Cullen was never a name at the top of Cowley’s January striking targets.

And, it’s certainly worth underlining that, although adept at working with the media, the Pompey boss has little control over the manner in which names of targets reach the public domain.

The reality is when it comes to attacking recruitment there are a number of figures which are yet to surface.

In part, that's because Cowley is still playing a waiting game and is happy to stay patient for those players to become available. Even as envious eyes are cast at rivals’ business among supporters.

The other cause of some consternation right now, should actually be seen as a reason for celebration.

Recent days have seen the kind of Pompey business we’ve been hoping for and anticipating crystallise surrounding the Fratton departure lounge.

Ellis Harrison’s exit for Fleetwood has been followed by Paul Downing departing for Rochdale. With Gassan Ahadme last night joining Burton Albion and Miguel Azeez on his way back to Arsenal, we’ve now seen four players depart but none arrive.

This shows us Cowley is comfortable about his cover with players returning to fitness, but more significantly it’s removing two of the biggest earners from the wage bill in the permanent contracts.

With John Marquis looking likely to stay and Cowley’s budget spoken for going into the window, the significance of this really shouldn’t be underestimated.

Only Michael Jacobs leaving could now free up significant funds of those on the periphery, and there’s nothing on the table which suits player and club on that front so far.

But Pompey have now manoeuvred themselves in a position to act in this window, and begin putting the ghost of previous winter business to bed.

It really now appears a case of Cowley making good on his recruitment team’s work, anticipating the openings and holding his nerve until the best business presents itself.

It may well still a take a while for that to manifest, but don’t fret. As the man himself says, stay tuned.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

Get 30 per cent off our sport subscription, which gives readers unlimited access to all our Pompey and grassroots coverage for just 9p a day, by using the promo code JanSports30. The deal expires at midnight on January 31.