Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley handed power for second summer overhaul - with eight contracted players left

Pompey have just eight members of their first-team squad contracted beyond this season.

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 4:55 am

And that adds up to a tantalising scenario for Danny Cowley as he seeks to maintain his Fratton Park overhaul.

Since appointed as permanent head coach in May, he has overseen the recruitment of 15 new faces.

However, many of his big earners remain, among them a number of bit-part performers the Blues boss will undoubtedly be keen to offload.

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Certainly the removal of a significant part of the current wage bill will provide Cowley with the flexibility he requires to continue rebuilding a side which last year finished eighth in League One – and are presently 10th.

Those contracted until the summer of 2023 and beyond are Ronan Curtis, Alex Bass, Clark Robertson, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Kieron Freeman, Connor Ogilvie, Joe Morrell and Haji Mnoga.

In addition, Liam Vincent penned a three-year contract in June, although is not presently considered a first-team option, with Cowley instead viewing the left-back as one for the future.

The in-form Sean Raggett is among 18 players out of contract at Fratton Park at the end of the season. Picture: Graham Hunt/ProSportsImages

These include Ellis Harrison, Paul Downing, Marcus Harness, John Marquis, Reeco Hackett, Sean Raggett, Lee Brown, Michael Jacobs, Callum Johnson, Shaun Williams, Jayden Reid, Louis Thompson and Jay Mingi.

The loans of Gavin Bazunu, Gassan Ahadme, George Hirst, Miguel Azeez and Mahlon Romeo are also up.

Inevitably, there will be those out of contract at the campaign’s end which Cowley will seek to retain – and club options could be pivotal.

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Certainly that will be crucial in the case of Harness, with the club possessing a 12-month option on their leading scorer and prized asset.

In some instances, the option may dictate the player remains on existing pay levels, whereas others could involve a pre-agreed wage increase.

Last summer, the Blues were unwilling to activate the option on The News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Season Craig MacGillivray on the basis it would elevate his wages.

Of the current squad, in addition to Harness, those known to have options are Marquis, Jacobs, Johnson, Thompson, Reid and Mingi.

Marquis, in particular, is an intriguing one given his status as one of the Blues’ top earners following his £1m purchase from Doncaster in the summer of 2019.

Meanwhile, the future of Raggett will no doubt develop as a key issue as the season progresses towards the expiry of his contract.

The towering centre-half is enjoying an outstanding campaign, as reflected by his man-of-the-match display in Saturday’s 1-0 triumph at Wycombe.

He joined Pompey permanently in August 2020 on a two-year deal from Norwich following a successful loan spell.

When his signing was announced by the Blues, there was no mention of the inclusion of a club option.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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