But the Blues head coach promised he had a clear plan to rebuild in the testing circumstances he faces.
Cowley will be operating with a reduced budget to overhaul his options in his first full season at Fratton Park, as he goes up against the likes of Sheffield Wednesday Sunderland Ipswich Town and Co for a place in the Championship.
The 42-year-old also has 14 contracted players eating into that kitty, limiting his manoeuvrability to get the swathe of signings he requires.
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Despite the difficulties, Cowley has underlined he believes in the process he and his team have in place.
He said: ‘We do have some challenges because of the amount of players we have to sign and the amount of money available.
‘We have a lot to do, we know exactly what we’ve got to do and we’ve got a plan - a clear plan.
‘We’re working towards that plan and we won’t deviate from it.
‘We want to get the best players possible. We’ve identified those, we know who we want and the type of players we want.
‘We know once we get certain positions in it will give us much more clarity.
‘I see that we’ve got a competitive budget.
‘What you have to remember is we have players in the building who are taking up a significant amount of that competitive budget.
‘Let me tell you, any manager coming into a club will inherit players,
‘When you talk about budgets it’s not what money you have, it’s ultimately what’s at your disposal - what money you actually have to spend.’
Cowley explained a manager facing a huge undertaking going into their first window is nothing unusual, with that period normally seeing the most intensive surgery on a squad.
And he is accepting of the fact Pompey will be a distance from being the most balanced group it can be when it closes on August 31.
Cowley added: ‘It’s a challenge, but that would be any manager going into any club in the first window.
‘As managers, we say it takes time and it’s a process.
‘I wish I had a magic wand. Honestly, I’d use it if I had it but it’s a process which takes time.
‘That’s why in the second and third windows you are in a much better place.
‘We’re not going to be perfect off the back of this window, but we’re going to work hard to get into the best possible position to create a competitive team.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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