Portsmouth transfers Q&A: contract talks, January, loans, budgets, Ipswich striker James Norwood verdict and how Wycombe's former Stoke forward Sam Vokes was a summer option

Contract talks, the January transfer window, budgets, loans, James Norwood and Sam Vokes are just some of the topics covered in our latest Q&A.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 4:30 pm

Jordan Cross was once again in the chair to take questions from Mark McMahon.

Here’s what was said...

Q Neil Allen spoke to Andy Cullen this week about the contract situations of those 13 players who deals expire at the season’s end. He was told nothing was happening at the minute on that front. Are you surprised by that given Pompey’s past history with things like that?

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I don't know if I'd be betraying a confidence here, I probably am, but Mark Catlin used to say to me: 'The public line on contract negotiations is we're not in negotiations’- but we're always in negotiations!’

So I would take that with a pinch of salt.

There may not be any negotiations accelerating at the moment but, when you have got that amount of players out of contract, you're going to be doing all you can to protect your assets.

I'm sure there’s negotiations taking place with representatives about those players.

From left: James Norwood, Danny Cowley, Marcus Harness and Sam Vokes

Of course, what the difficulty is for an executive in that situation is that dressing rooms talk.

So say Marcus Harness is a priority - obviously a player who is playing well, his contract is out and Pompey have a renewal in their favour - they'll be doing something to protect that.

But say it's another player who could potentially be out of contract and on their way, that player is going to want discussions as well.

If it's conducted too publically, that can permeate and cause difficulty amongst the squad.

So it's natural for the official line to be: no contract discussions are taking place.

But I would take that with a pinch of salt.

I think it might be a bit different with the players Danny Cowley might be wanting to move on.

He needs to have a talk with those players with regard to them potentially moving on in January to get themselves in the shop window.

But in terms of the assets Pompey would like to remain moving forward, maybe the likes of Sean Raggett, I think it would be remiss of Pompey to not have some sort of dialogue taking place before their contracts come to a close.

Q It’s roughly six weeks until the January transfer window opens. There’s not much happening behind the scenes in terms of contracts but enough is been said to suggest there’s much happening with an eye on January. What doe you anticipate happening in January?

It depends on a lot of factors - the players who are coming to a close; the players who are on the fringes – Michael Jacobs, Paul Downing, Ellis Harrisons; the players who are bankable out of those players. Do they move on?

If they move on then they free up money in the budget for Pompey to then get more of a push on with the players they're looking.

Obviously, a centre-back and a striker are the priority.

Outside of that, you're looking at loans.

I don't see it being a big spending January.

We've been told that Pompey overspent on their existing budget, which has slightly gone up, we're told, from Kenny Jackett's era - despite the toing and froing over that one.

Danny Cowley has been getting to games. He's looking at young loan players, watching the likes of Arsenal recently and one or two others.

I think that's what Pompey will be looking at, and that would depend maybe on one of the existing five loans moving back - the likes of Gassan Ahadme or George Hirst, although that's kind of changing all the time and will probably change again before January.

So short of the Eisners freeing up the purse strings for some extra money, which probably wouldn't be a good look from an executive point of view when they’ve been given a budget and it’s already gone up, I think it will be loans in January.

And, obviously, the quality of those loans will depend if existing players move on, with Harrison, Downing and Jacobs being in that pot.

Q One player who has been talked about already is Ipswich striker James Norwood. However, you’re hearing that’s a no-goer, is that correct?

Yeah, all the signs are that James Norwood has been mentioned with Pompey in the past before Danny Cowley.

I know the guys at the EADT (East Anglian Daily Times) have mentioned that as well with regard to the fact that he has now been made available.

He's on the fringes and Ipswich have a wealth of attacking talent. Joe Piggott is not playing a lot of football there - another player Pompey were keen on in the past summer.

So naturally people would look to Norwood and say that's a player who Pompey could do with.

They're not blessed with a wealth of in-form attacking talent at the moment.

But I understand that's not one Pompey would be looking to pursue in January.

The fact is, would it be a permanent move and could Pompey afford to fund a move for someone like James Norwood?

But I think, regardless of that, he's got some issues off the pitch at the moment and you wonder if he'd be the type of guy Danny Cowley would be looking to move for. I doubt that.

That said, and I did say this to Danny Cowley, in general terms, if you haven't got a big budget, maybe you might need to take a punt on someone that others are turning down, players who have issues, and try to carve out some more out of them.

And I think that's a salient point.

They haven't got the budget to throw big money on players that others are really pushing for, so they might need to take a punt or two.

But in terms of James Norwood, there's no interest.

Interestingly, last weekend Sam Vokes gave Pompey a tough afternoon and he's exactly the kind of powerful striker that Danny Cowley is looking for.

We know obviously about Jayden Stockley and Joe Piggot in the summer.

But it was quite a powerful number-nine performance from Sam Vokes, who was not so long ago playing in the Premier League.

And I understand that he was another player Pompey looked at in the summer.

He was an interesting option in the number of avenues Danny Cowley went down without success.

But they couldn't quite get that one off the ground in the end, while I don’t think Sam Vokes quite wanted to come for one reason or another.

It shows you the kind of players Pompey were looking at, though.

It's information I've had and I think it's our duty to inform our listeners, readers and viewers these tit-bits.