Portsmouth boss reveals how he plans to engineer January squad shake-up

Danny Cowley is ready to have some ‘honest conversations’ with fringe Pompey players to help oil a January squad shake-up.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 6:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th November 2021, 6:14 pm

The Blues boss looks like he will need to be creative in his efforts to make the changes to his options at both ends of the pitch in the new year, with his existing playing budget taken up.

And Cowley has revealed how he plans talks with a number of the 12 players whose deals are up next summer, with a view to allowing them to leave before February 1.

The likes of Paul Downing, Michael Jacobs and Ellis Harrison are among the players whose futures could come under focus.

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Exits for any of those men would, of course, free up wages and give some much-needed transfer manoeuvrability for the Pompey head coach.

Cowley said: ‘How I always work is if in January there are players not playing who are out of contract in the summer, and I don’t believe we will renew their contract - I will look them in the eye and have that honest conversation with them over that period.

‘I owe that to them and I owe it to the football club because everyone needs clarity.

‘If they are not in the team, not playing regularly and are coming out of contract we have to be fair to them to give them the opportunity to move.

(From left) Michael Jacobs, Ellis Harrison and Paul Downing are three players who see their contracts end next summer.

‘Now if they don’t take that opportunity to move, they can’t moan on February 1 that they’re not playing because I’ve been completely obvious with them.

‘What I normally find is the players coming out of contract want to play and need to play in order to earn their next contract.

‘We’ll see where we’re at in January, because we’re respectful in football things change very quickly.’

Cowley also sees flexibility in working the loan market in January, with Pompey currently have five players on loan.

Mahlon Romeo, Gassan Ahadme, Miguel Azeez, George Hirst and Gavin Bazunu have all had varying degrees of success, with their positions under review.

Cowley is clear on what’s required, with a striker and central defender clear priorities.

He added: ‘We’re working really hard and we know exactly what we need. It’s as clear as day.

‘We want to use the January window, because we don’t want to be in the same position next summer as this summer, with just too much to do.

‘When I review the last window, the Championship didn’t move and because of the salary cap a lot of players signed two-year deals. So there just wasn’t the players.

‘There were so few free agents and it was incredibly tough. We have to learn from the situation we found ourselves in.

‘We’re clear on the positions we want to improve in and we’re clear on our targets. We’re hoping to achieve that.

‘There’s normally some flexibility in that loan area.

‘It won’t be straightforward, I’m learning quite quickly at this club nothing is, but these are the challenges.

‘But we have to keep improving and I know exactly what we need.’

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