Mark Catlin: Portsmouth looking elsewhere after new contracts not agreed with Fratton Park quartet

Mark Catlin insists the door hasn’t been closed on the Fratton Park futures of their out-of-contract quartet.

Yet he admits the Blues are now seeking to replace Jack Whatmough, Ben Close, Ryan Williams and Tom Naylor.

Danny Cowley’s end-of-season clear-out resulted in the offering of fresh deals to just four of the 11 players whose contracts expire next month.

However, more than two weeks after the final League One match and with none of the quartet yet to sign, Catlin has revealed Pompey have now moved on.

Instead, Cowley is pursuing fresh recruits in the positions of Whatmough, Close, Williams and Naylor as he ramps up his recruitment drive.

Catlin told The News: ‘You want to stay loyal to those in the short-term to give them a chance. Do they want to accept? Do they not want to accept?

‘Ultimately, though, as a club we have to move on – and we are in that period.

‘You can never give a hard deadline. If we have not found X position in four weeks and that player comes back and says “Okay, I’ll accept that deal now”, you cannot cut your nose off to spite your face, you have to be flexible.

Tom Naylor is among a quartet of out-of-contract Pompey players offered fresh deals since the season ended. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘But it’s fair to say in the positions of those players, we are now actively out there looking and speaking to other players to give us options.

‘We’re in the phase now where if someone came up in a position where we currently have an offer on the table, then we would actively consider it.

‘We have put our best foot forward – and if that’s not acceptable we have to be looking elsewhere.

‘Good luck to all four players, there is no obligation whatsoever to effect a deal. If they can find a better offer or something which suits them better then good luck to them, they go with our best wishes.

‘But you can never close the door in business, you have to be pragmatic and deal with a certain situation at a certain time.’

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All four of the players have been offered reduced wages to remain at Fratton Park

Naylor’s exit is already anticipated, with options back in his native north, while Jack Whatmough has been linked with the Championship.

Meanwhile, Ben Close and Ryan Williams previously publicly admitted their desire to remain at Fratton Park.

Catlin added: ‘The existing players are out there with their agent looking for other clubs. We are out there looking for other players.

‘I always say, I have absolutely no issues whatsoever with players who have seen their contract out and then want to go and explore other options.

‘That is absolutely the right thing to do.

‘I have always had an issue with players looking to get out of their contracts when they are still in contract.

‘When we enter a contract we expect to honour it – and we expect the player to honour it as well.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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