The absolute priority for Portsmouth as we get set for the January sales with Sheffield Wednesday, Oxford United, Plymouth Argyle and Ipswich Town targets up for grabs

The calls have now been discreetly made.

By Jordan Cross
Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 4:55 am

Polite conversations to test the water over the possibility of any interest, and, in the event of a positive reception an enquiry over whether a January deal could be engineered.

But the sentiment is clear: these Pompey players are available.

And, make no mistake, oiling the wheels for a departure for the minority of fringe players eating up a substantial slice of the playing budget pie is Danny Cowley’s absolute January priority.

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Hence the tentative communication with Darren Ferguson over the potential availability of John Marquis, The News reported last week.

The Peterborough boss is in the market for a striker to aid his team’s Championship survival bid, Marquis is a player he knows well from Doncaster and Pompey need to generate finances to fund Cowley’s own squad reshaping.

So the tactful discussion took place, albeit the subject matter being met with a lukewarm response from the Posh boss.

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From left: Paul Downing, John Marquis, Ellis Harrison and Michael Jacobs

Of course, you can expect countless other similar Machiavellian exchanges to take place in the coming days and weeks.

Do Plymouth or Oxford United still fancy Ellis Harrison? Is there a market for Michael Jacobs? Looking for a defender, how about Paul Downing?

These are the men who can free up the money to allow Cowley to bring in the players he views as a priority, to allow his side to be competitive in their play-off chase.

But the business of recruitment is not one played out on a laptop, where Tonton Zola Moukoko, Cherno Samba and Freddy Adu offer the answer to our transfer window prayers at the tap of a button.

Getting players on very reasonable deals by League One standards to move with six months remaining, may be a lot easier said than done.

These men could well be comfortable where they are, and they didn't hand out the contracts.

Cowley has promised honest conversations with those involved, while peddling the angle they can get their futures secured before the summer scramble to find a club gets underway.

So we wait to see what develops. Jacobs, for example, has spoken of his desire for regular playing time while having a totally open dialogue with his manager.

There need to be takers for these players, however, even with the possibility of Pompey lightening the financial load for buyers. As the adage goes in the game, football clubs buy players they don’t sell them.

But the whiff of promotion or desire to bolster a survival bid, often prompts the kind of business which may help the Pompey January sales.

If not, with the parameters defined as one in, one out, Cowley may have to take a decision or two he doesn’t want to in an effort to get the powerful striker and central defender he still views as priorities.

However it pans out, expect a few bluffs and plenty of mind games as Pompey play their January hand. After busting in previous January windows, though, they need to hold their nerve this time as they cash in their chips.

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