Pepe Lacey is joined by Chief Sports Writer Neil Allen to chat about the current state of play surrounding all of the Blues’ current January transfer business and what to expect from Danny Cowley this month.
Here’s what was said...
Q So, we're already a few days into January - why have we not seen any concrete developments involving Pompey yet?
As we’ve written and spoken about many times, the club have made it very clear that players must depart before new players can arrive.
Again, the obvious ones of Paul Downing, Ellis Harrison and John Marquis are the three highest wage-earners but they clearly have no future at Fratton Park, and ahead of their contracts expiring in the summer Pompey would like to move them on in January to create room in the existing player budget to bring new players.
It’s hoped something can happen with those three in particular and a couple of loans departing as well to make space for new players coming in.
Q Departures are clearly key to the whole process. Is there any updates on Paul Downing, who has been linked with Doncaster and Stevenage, and Ellis Harrison, who The News reported had Bristol Rovers, Shrewsbury and Fleetwood interested in him.
Speaking to Danny Cowley after the game on Monday night there’s no developments at the moment.
I think Shrewsbury is dead in the water in terms of Ellis Harrison after they signed a new striker, so I can’t see that happening.
We are just waiting for something to happen with these players and wages is the issue.
With the greatest respect to the three of them, they will never earn so much money as they are at the moment in the rest of their career. This is the high in their career.
Wherever they go next, in whatever division, whether it’s now or in the summer, they will have to take pay cuts compared to what they are on at Pompey.
John Marquis arrived for £1m and quite rightly he is one of the club’s top earners – you don’t sign someone for that much and expect them to be the low earners.
Knowing that they’ll be on reduced wages, do these players leave now and have a club lined up or do they wait until the summer where they have more flexibility with them?
‘he other part is if they do go to another club, whether that be loaned or paid off, Pompey would have to pay some sort of contribution.
It’s a complex situation, it’s not easy and financially the wages are going to be key.
They may be offered regular game time elsewhere, but the likelihood is Pompey will have to make a contribution to their wages.
Q We keep hearing that Gassan Ahadme is heading back to Norwich. he wasn't on the bench at Cambridge on Monday, has he already gone, what's going on there?
He was 19th man and was present at the Abbey Stadium on Monday and continues to train with Pompey. We are just waiting to hear news from the club to confirm his departure to Norwich.
He is just an academy kid who has had to play League One football for the first time.
He’s probably a year above the academy but he's a complete rookie expected to go into League One, men's football, and perform.
It’s a big jump and it has been a tough time for him adapting.
It hasn’t worked out but Danny Cowley has repeatedly said what a great lad he is.
He’s got a tremendous attitude, tremendous attitude to work rate and listening, and he’s been a delight round the camp – but it hasn’t worked out.
The leap is too far for him at this stage in his career so we’ll wait for that to be confirmed.
When it is, Pompey will have a loan slot to bring in a new player.
Q Will he be the only loanee departing this month?
Obviously, Gavin Bazunu and Mahlon Romeo will be here for the rest of the season unless their clubs think otherwise.
You then have Miguel Azeez, who’s then not really done enough, and George Hirst, who has came into it towards the end of the year.
It was a poor performance on Monday against Cambridge for him, but they were all a bit rusty.
Meanwhile, let’s not forget he has been really impressive since he’s been given a run in the side, so we’ll see how that develops.
With Hirst, Cowley wants to keep him but Leicester were unhappy about his lack of minutes until the Palace game, so perhaps that’s changed their minds and they’re happy for him to stay and play regularly while being a part of things.
Azeez is the interesting one because it hasn’t quite come off for him and if Pompey need to send a loan back that might put him right in the frame.
Q Pompey clearly want takers for both John Marquis and Ellis Harrison. If deals can be struck, who do you think might come in this month and replace them?
Pompey would like to move those two on and it could take a long time.
The Blues need a striker, they need a central defender.
Will Boyle and Kyle Wootton have been looked at without doubt and there are other players available that Pompey have lined up or would like to pursue – but it just depends if those two can depart.
The likelihood of Downing, Harrison and Marquis all leaving in January is unlikely.
It’s going to be difficult so they could count themselves fortunate if two could depart.
But it’s out of Pompey’s hands largely so they’re relying on interest from other clubs willing to meet their financial demands.
I expect to see at least one of those three to be here for the rest of the season, purely because of how supply and demand works in the January window.
Marquis came off the bench against Cambridge and Cowley sees him as a better fit.
Even if he stays, he’ll still be used by Pompey, but it doesn’t detract from the fact they’d like to remove him from their wage bill this January window.
Q Plenty of fans on social media were once again calling for a new striker again after Monday's goalless draw at Cambridge. How confident are you that Danny Cowley will be able to find a solution to that particular problem this month?
Pompey need a new striker without a doubt, and their central defence is their priority position.
In fact, I think they can get away with not bringing in a central defender if they want to prioritise a striker because Clark Robertson is coming back, Connor Ogilvie has been outstanding at centre-back in a back three, Sean Raggett’s still here, Kieron Freeman and Shaun Williams can cover, so for me, the priority has to be a striker.
I’ve been banging on about it since last season that they need new strikers.
Ronan Curtis has operated alongside Hirst but it’s not been the Ronan Curtis we know as a central player.
He needs to be on the wing, he’s more effective on the wing, his goal scoring record on the wing is better so they desperately need a striker.
‘They need someone who can come straight into the side, Cowley knows that, we know that, we can see it, it’s obvious. So hopefully that's a big priority for Pompey.
‘Pompey are confident, Danny Cowley is confident and Andy Cullen is confident that players will depart this window - if they do expect a new striker to come in.