The bizarre Portsmouth goalkeeping crisis which underlines why Luke McGee must stay prepared

Luke McGee failed to depart Fratton Park this summer. Picture: Joe Pepler
Luke McGee failed to depart Fratton Park this summer. Picture: Joe Pepler
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It was no shock to hear keeper Luke McGee wanted to depart Pompey this summer.

By slipping to third choice last season, following his 2017 arrival from Tottenham to be manager Kenny Jackett’s No 1, it’s plainly obvious game time for the 24-year-old at Fratton Park would be limited.

The superb maiden campaign of Craig MacGillivray and the encouraging progress of Alex Bass – plus a wrist setback – pushed McGee to the back of the queue, ensuring his presence on the pre-season trip to Dublin was not essential.

With 100 Football League appearances under his belt, a solid grounding in the capable hands of Spurs’ academy and plenty of talent, regular football is what he understandably covets.

However, no sufficient interest in the 24-year-old materialised during the transfer window.

And that means the former Peterborough loanee will remain at PO4 until at least January.

Ryan Allsop dejected after Plymouth's Peter Hartley dumped Pompey out of the League Two play-offs in 2016. Picture: Joe Pepler

Ryan Allsop dejected after Plymouth's Peter Hartley dumped Pompey out of the League Two play-offs in 2016. Picture: Joe Pepler

Jackett has since told McGee to stay focused and be prepared should an opportunity arise.

That seems unlikely at this moment in time, but he only has to look back a few years for an example of when Pompey were plunged into a goalkeeping crisis.

During Paul Cook’s first season in charge (2015-16), he was forced to use no less than five stoppers.

It was a freak campaign, with the catastrophe contributing to the Blues missing out on League Two promotion.

Ryan Fulton was signed on loan by Paul Cook during the 2015-16 season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Ryan Fulton was signed on loan by Paul Cook during the 2015-16 season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Brian Murphy was between the posts for the 3-0 victory over Dagenham on the opening day of the season. 

However, a groin injury picked up in September prompted No2 Paul Jones to be promoted for a 1-1 draw with Oxford.

Jones would leave the Kassam Stadium in a knee brace, though, while Michael Poke returned from his loan spell from Eastleigh with a shoulder problem.

That prompted Cook to recruit Aaron McCarey on an emergency one-month loan from Wolves, with the Irishman subsequently featuring six times.

Murphy returned that October, with Alex Bass deputising for a sustained spell, before Ryan Fulton was recruited from Liverpool in the January transfer window.

The Scotland youth international became first choice at Fratton Park, but he picked up a complaint himself and went back to Anfield for treatment.

Ultimately, it was the play-offs when Pompey felt the full wrath of the goalkeeping nightmare. 

Fulton, Murphy, Jones and Bass were all sidelined, with Ryan Allsop then drafted in from AFC Bournemouth for the two games against Plymouth.

The Blues were unable to name a sub keeper on the bench in either match and Allsop was left much maligned by the Fratton faithful after questionable errors of judgement across 180 minutes.

Granted, that was a bizarre chapter in Fratton Park history – one nobody could have predicted and those extremes are unlikely to be repeated in the near future.

Nevertheless, it underlines exactly why McGee can ill afford to let any standards slip while out of contention.

An appearance might come when least expected.