Rumour rated: what are the chances of Portsmouth signing Arsenal keeper also linked with Leeds, Barnsley and Sunderland?
You’d have been forgiven for thinking everything was business as usual for a second when it emerged Pompey were being linked with James Hillson.
Amid the coronavirus outbreak and talk of how the League One season will be completed, reports of Pompey being interested in the Arsenal keeper brought a bit of normality back to football.
According to ESPN, the Blues are supposedly keen on a loan move for the Gunners keeper, competing for his signature along with the likes of Leeds, Luton, Barnsley and Sunderland.
Emirates boss Mikel Arteta apparently holds the 19-year-old in high regard and is keen to get him playing regular senior football to enhance his development.
But if that is the Spaniard’s wish, then, as things stand, Fratton Park wouldn’t exactly be the best destination for Hillson.
If there’s one department Pompey are well stocked – it’s goalkeeping.
The Blues will already have at least four stoppers on their books at the beginning of the 2020-21 season, irrespective of whenever that is.
Alex Bass is currently No1, having dislodged Craig MacGillivray at Gillingham on New Year’s Day, and keeping his place since.
The 22-year-old’s eye-catching performances will no doubt be attracting potential suitors from further up the pyramid.
However, Jackett has already insisted Bass is firmly part of the Blues’ future and is not for sale.
Tied down for another three years, Pompey have strongly secured one of their prized assets.
It’s, therefore, hard to fathom how an untried Hillson could come in and wrestle Bass’ starting spot off him.
In truth, it would be just as difficult to envisage the former Reading youth player arriving as a back-up stopper – a role currently occupied by MacGillivray.
When he was replaced by Bass at Gillingham, it was nothing short of a curveball.
The Scot enjoyed a fine 2018-19 campaign at PO4 and swiftly established himself as a fans’ favourite following his arrival from Shrewsbury.
To have a keeper of MacGillivray’s calibre as No2 underlines the strength Jackett has at his disposal between the posts.
He’s at a crucial juncture in his career and played the bridesmaid role – at Walsall, Shrewsbury and now Pompey – enough for someone who’s 27.
However, the ramifications of the coronavirus outbreak may put paid to any a potential move with a year left on his deal.
Clubs will be hesitant to spend in such a precarious financial environment.
But, for argument’s sake, let’s say MacGillivray did depart during the off-season.
It’s still highly unlikely Jackett would want a rookie keeper yet to play a senior game to come in as his No2.
After all, playing for Pompey comes with a substantial degree of pressure that even established senior pros have struggled to cope with in the past.
You’d have to think someone with experience and nous would be high up Jackett’s wish list.
If a deal for Hillson was to be brokered, it would also leave two young keepers in limbo.
Triallist Duncan Turnbull penned a deal with the Blues until next summer, with Jackett confirming he’ll be third choice.
And the American will be hoping for any opportunity he can get – whether that be in Leasing.com Trophy games or for the reserves.
There’s also Taylor Seymour to factor in.
The Lewes stopper is primed to sign third-year scholarship terms in the coming weeks.
While he’s able to feature for the academy next term, he’ll also be wanting any slice of reserve or Leasing.com Trophy action that comes his way.
Pompey might well have run the rule over Hillson in the past during their extensive recruitment process.
But given the Blues’ current set-up, it looks like a rumour difficult to bear fruit.
Rumour rating: 1/5