Paul Cook 'looking at' Portsmouth players as he plans Ipswich promotion push

Paul Cook has a potential Pompey return on his agenda as he plans on making Ipswich a League One promotion force next season.

By Mark McMahon
Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 6:06 pm

New Portman Road chief executive Mark Ashton has admitted there’s players currently on the Blues’ books who Cook believes could play a key role in an exciting new Tractor Boys era.

The former Fratton Park boss is overseeing a major overhaul of the playing squad at Ipswich following their ninth-placed finish last season.

It’s a process that draws similarities to the rebuild job Danny Cowley has undertaken at Pompey.

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However, Cook does appear to be able to flex more financial muscle than his Blues counterpart following an American-led takeover of the club by Gamechanger 20 in April.

That’s led to much interest in Ipswich’s transfer plans this summer, with some high-prolife names already linked with a move to Portman Road.

And according to new CEO Ashton, the former Bristol City chief who started his new role at Town this week, it’s interest that could see Cook make enquiries for current Pompey players.

Revealing to the East Anglian Daily Times that Ipswich are looking at bringing in players from he and Cook's former clubs – Pompey, Wigan and Bristol City – Ashton said: ‘There's always an element of better the devil you know, so yes there are players at those clubs that we're looking at, but the net goes far wider than that.

Former Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images

‘We will endeavour to bring in the best talent that we can to win games.’

Despite Pompey’s own disappointing end to the 2020-21 campaign, there’s familiar talent within the most recent Blues squad which Cook could turn to.

Both Jack Whatmough and Ben Close worked with the 54-year-old during his two-year spell at Fratton Park and are set to leave – although the former has been linked with a switch to Wigan.

Michael Jacobs is a player Cook knows well during his time at the Latics and could provide a temptation, while goalkeeper Alex Bass has attracted interest from Championship clubs in the past and is highly-rated.

Pompey are known to be open to offers for some of their prized assets, including Ronan Curtis.

Meanwhile, former captain Tom Naylor, Craig MacGillivray and Ryan Williams could also prove attractive propositions, especially with all three poised to head through the Fratton Park exit on free transfers.

The trio featured in all three Pompey wins against Ipswich last season, with Naylor and Williams amongst the goals during those games.

Ashton added: ‘Paul’s been really clear on the type of player he wants, he's been clear on some of the targets he wants and the club have started to move on some of those targets.

‘I'd like to think that in the next week or so, we can get some of those across the line.

‘We've got to recruit players that can get us out of this division, and we've got to recruit talent around that.

‘We'll look to recruit in all areas, we'll look to develop the Academy - and that will come in time - and we'll look to recruit players into the under 23's, which is the underbelly that we can develop in time for Paul and the first team.

‘But we've got to recruit players that can help us win games come August.’

Cook currently has former Pompey player Gary Roberts acting as his assistant at Portman Road.

He also added John Keeley to his staff last month, following the ex-Blues keeper’s Fratton Park exit.