Peterborough's Barry Fry makes Sammie Szmodics claim which will frustrate Portsmouth as they prepare for another season in League One

Barry Fry believes Peterborough beating Pompey in the race to sign Sammie Szmodics was a key contributor to their promotion last season.

The Blues were one of six clubs interested in the then Bristol City attacking midfielder last summer.

In fact, they were leading the race for the now Republic of Ireland man’s signature and were quietly confident of tempting him to Fratton Park on loan, after a previous failed inquiry in the January 2020 transfer window.

But their interest was blown out of the water by the big-spending Posh, who had a bid – believed to be in excess of £1m – accepted by the Robins for their former loanee.

Signing a four-year deal, Szmodics went on to play a key role in Peterborough’s second-placed finish and promotion to the Championship.

He started 40 League One games for Darren Ferguson’s and netted 15 goals in the process as the London Road outfit finished second behind champions Hull.

And Fry believes the decision to spend big on Szmodics and former Bristol Rovers striker Jonson Clarke-Harris – who went on the net 31 league goals – proved key to a successful season.

Speaking to Football League World, the Peterborough director of football said: ‘We brought in a midfield player Sammie Szmodics from Bristol City.

Pompey were desperate to sign Sammie Szmodics last summer. Picture: Clive Mason/Getty Images

‘We spent a lot of money on both Clarke-Harris and him and the chairman, Darragh MacAnthony, deserves all the credit because of his determination and relentless pursuit to secure these players.

‘You know, we had four or five bids turned down, but we kept going and without those two players, we wouldn’t have gone up.

‘The other boy got us 15 goals from midfield, which was fantastic.’

Pompey’s top scorer from midfield last season was Tom Naylor, with the former captain scoring six League goals – the last of which came against Charlton on February 2.

John Marquis was the Blues’ top scorer in League One with 16 goals.