Portsmouth contracts: Who could stay and who is likely to leave as decisions are needed on Swansea-linked winger, former Millwall forward and ex-Norwich defender

With Pompey fans awaiting developments on what’s next for the Blues’ 12 out of contract players, we thought we’d pick the brains of Jordan Cross to see what lies in wait.

By Mark McMahon
Friday, 6th May 2022, 5:30 pm

Here’s what he had to say…

Q Pompey have 12 players out of contract. Who’s a priority for Danny Cowley and does that mean they’ll be staying?

There are priorities, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be here next season.

Obviously, there’s been negotiations, they have to prioritise certain players with 12 out of contract, and that’s a concerning amount on the surface of things.

It’s probably not as drastic as 12 months ago but it’s a sizeable overhaul still.

Danny Cowley says there’s been progress, but there’s still a massive overhaul in his third transfer window and most crucial one.

He has an element of control with the options (Pompey have on certain players).

From left: Sean Williams, Michael Jacobs, Aiden O'Brien and Marcus Harness

That puts something in Pompey’s favour, but certainly one of the most crucial ones is Sean Raggett – but his option was indexed to Pompey reaching the Championship, so effectively it’s null and void that option.

He is obviously a clear priority – as is Marcus Harness.

He’s a priority for slightly different reasons, though, as it seems he’s edging closer to moving on this summer. But Pompey need to protect their asset.

Finally, Louis Thompson, for me, is a crucial one.

Pompey have an option, which we understand is for a small increase in wages, which is surprising as he took a massive decrease in wages to come here from what he was on at Norwich.

But they might have to renegotiate that.

They’re the main ones, along with Michael Jacobs.

Q Danny Cowley has often spoken about the importance of continuity, but surely not all 12 players will be here next season, so who has played their last game for the Blues?

Firstly, I think it’s worth picking up on the fact that that term continuity has been something Danny Cowley has been pushing in the wake of the final game at Sheffield Wednesday.

He came out for a raft of interviews and repeated the same notion over and over again that it was crucial to get that work done, that we can’t afford to fall behind, and he’s really ramped it up by affectively saying ‘I’ve recommended that Hirst and Carter remain and it’s over to the board to get it done’.

It’s really interesting for me that he’s ramping up that notion that he needs things done, which will come at a premium, with Hirst and Carter two very difficult deals given their success here.

But back to the question. I think, naturally, Sean Williams is at risk. He was on a one-year deal and is coming to the end of his career.

I think that was almost a stop-gap (signing), so that’s an obvious one.

Reeco Hackett – I think he could well be around but perhaps more as a squad player really.

Jay Mingi and Jayden Reid fall into that category as well, while Olly Webber, we’ll have to see what happens there.

Don’t forget Callum Johnson is still a Pompey player as well, but he’ll be moving on, along with Paul Downing.

Of course, there’s also the thorny issue of Aiden O’Brien, but no doubt, you’ll be asking me about that.

Q Well, seeing as you brought it up, what is the situation with O’Brien after he revealed his agent had still not spoken to Pompey? I’m surprised by that, are you?

I don’t think you’re the only one given the success of O’Brien since his January arrival.

It will go down as a successful bit of business, and, yeah, it is slightly surprising.

I will slightly defend the Pompey hierarchy on that one, though, because on the surface it seems like they’re taking their time there.

But we have to ask the question about what’s happening. Has Danny Cowley indicated to the board that he’s wanted? Is there some toing and froing going on? That might be a factor.

But it was a surprise to hear there’s been no contact directly with his agent, with O’Brien very keen to be here and Pompey fans wanting him, too.

It think he’d be relatively affordable given his keenness and the fact he’s rebuilding his career somewhat at Pompey.

But I just have a feeling that will accelerate in the coming days or weeks. That’s one to look out for because Pompey don’t have any strikers.

O’Brien is one they can nail down as Danny Cowley has said he wants four strikers.

Q You’ve mentioned Marcus Harness as well already. It makes sense for Pompey to take up their option on him – but will he be here next season?

No!

Again, it’s a no-brainer for Pompey to take up that option.

Danny Cowley has repeatedly said that that’s his recommendation, protecting the club’s asset in the process.

He has to be Pompey’s most bankable asset at the moment.

It was something like £800,000 they paid (Burton) for him, but whether they get much more than that now, I’m not sure.

But that’s not what Danny Cowley will be looking at. He’ll be looking at how much of that money will be coming back into his kitty to redistribute.

Swansea, as reported by Neil Allen. remain keen.

And it makes sense for him to move on because, let’s face it, Pompey have not succeeded on the front foot (in recent seasons).

I’m not saying that’s solely down to Marcus. He’s increased his goal return season-on-season at Pompey, but it might be the right time now to move on and then Danny Cowley can really stamp his authority on his squad in those attacking areas.

That will be a key focus this summer.

Q Hopefully part of that focus will entail getting Michael Jacobs to sign a new deal but, from what we understand, it will probably be a pay-as-to-play offer. Is that not a kick in the teeth for someone like Jacobs, despite his injury record?

That’s what my take on that is, too.

Jacobs is Pompey’s most talented player in this current squad, for my money, but he comes with a relative premium in Pompey’s budget and I’m sure there will be suitors for him.

A bit like Jack Whatmough, he probably deserves more than a pay-as-you-play deal.

I understand why Danny Cowley has done that, because he’s had his injury problems – that’s a concern, while there’s also the factor of how he fits in to the manager’s game idea.

For me, perhaps he’s at the right price point to keep for Danny Cowley, but not at the money he’s currently earning, so that’s maybe why they’ve suggested publically this pay-as-you-play deal.

I suspect Michael Jacobs will feel he deserves a bit more than that, though.

So lots of shenanigans going on but I would like to see Jacobs stay.

Is it realistic? I’m still not sure.