Portsmouth's best and worst-case scenarios heading into the January transfer window

It’s that time of year again.

Sunday, 1st December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Sunday, 1st December 2019, 6:00 am
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

Today the advent calendars doors started to be opened, with the countdown to Christmas now on.

The festive period means football fans are a glutton for watching games, guzzling down the non-stop action that takes place virtually daily.

And a key topic that’s consistently discussed is the January transfer window and how each team are going to recruit.

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January 1 represents when clubs are again permitted to have incoming and outgoings.

For Pompey, there’s already been plenty of talk regarding their strategy.

Kenny Jackett, Mark Catlin and Eric Eisner have all addressed the issue and the noises being made are that the Blues are looking for quality additions to bolster this season’s promotion push.

Irons are already in the fire and the boss has identified the areas of his squad that need strengthening.

Certainly, January 2020’s recruitment has to be better than the past two years as none of the combined 10 arrivals made any substantial impact.

So here are the best and worst-case scenarios that could happen during the mid-term window…

Best case

Kenny Jackett wants to come out of January stronger than he started it.

Whether that’s permanent signings or loan deals, the boss targets having a better squad for the business end of the season.

The key area Pompey have been light is the number-10 position.

In fairness, since John Marquis started playing behind Ellis Harrison, the Blues scored 10 goals in three games against Southend, Rochdale and Rotherham.

However, the summer signing from Doncaster isn't an out-and-out playmaker and there’s the argument his goalscoring prowess is being wasted in a deeper role.

The Blues have Gareth Evans and Brett Pitman who can both operate in the position and they’ll still play their respective parts.

Yet a quintessential number 10, someone at the heart of almost every attacking move, is what’s required.

Especially for home games when teams are happy to sit behind the ball, someone who can unlock a stubborn rearguard action with a moment of magic is the ilk of player Pompey don't currently have.

Head of recruitment Phil Boardman may scan Championship for forwards out of favour or run the rule over players thriving in League One or Scotland.

Then there's the case that Jackett is short of a body in midfield.

Bryn Morris has had another setback after abdomen surgery and isn’t any closer to his comeback.

Pompey currently have Tom Naylor, Ben Close, Andy Cannon and Ross McCrorie as options. Anton Walkes has also filled in adeptly while Naylor’s been sidelined with a hamstring complaint.

But someone with perhaps a bit more attacking vigour and energy from the holding-midfield position is also something the Blues have lacked.

Worst case

There is the concern that Ross McCrorie may return to Rangers.

McCrorie had a mixed start at Fratton Park in central midfield but started to show his talent when shifted to a right-back role.

The Scotland under-21 captain has been sidelined with a hamstring injury he suffered last month and is earmarked to return to fitness ahead of Peterborough’s trip to Fratton Park on Saturday.

Much could depend on if he wins back a starting spot – either in the engine room or oust Brandon Haunstrup in defence.

If McCrorie did go back to his parent club then it wouldn't be as damaging as Ben Thompson’s departure 12 months ago, but would still be a mighty blow.

Moreover, while the Blues don’t want to lose anyone and have no plans to even loan fringe players out, Ronan Curtis may test the resolve should clubs come knocking.

There was reported interest in the Irishman last January after his scintillating opening six months in the Football League following his arrival from Derry City.

After an out-of-sorts start to this term, Curtis has started to look his former self and displayed maturity by varying up his game.

Before yesterday’s FA Cup tie against Altrincham, he’d netted five goals in his past six games.

The 23-year-old is out of contract this summer, although the club do hold the option of an additional 12 months.

It’d likely take a significant bid to prise him such a key player away but potential suitors may take a chance given his contractual situation.