The position Danny Cowley may have added to his already-lengthy Portsmouth shopping list

It was a departure that suited all parties involved.

Saturday, 26th June 2021, 4:56 am
Updated Saturday, 26th June 2021, 9:26 am

For James Bolton, Pompey and Plymouth, there's not one side of that triumvirate who'd have complained about the move coming to fruition.

Bolton gets a fresh start away from Fratton Park, having been limited to just 20 appearances throughout last season.

Plymouth have signed a versatile defender who's dependable at League One level and an affable character around dressing room.

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And the Blues have got a fringe player off the wage bill, collecting an undisclosed fee – albeit most likely nominal – in the process.

Maybe it comes as more of a shock that Bolton's been allowed to go when Pompey are already short of bodies just four days before pre-season starts.

The ex-Shrewsbury man's exit took Cowley's squad back down to 14 – although Shaun Williams’ subsequent arrival has again boosted that number.

Pompey head coach Danny Cowley. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com

However, despite Pompey shifting on a bit-part player, a replacement right-back for Bolton wouldn't be unfathomable.

Granted, the Blues presently have ample cover in that position, with Callum Johnson and Haji Mnoga both under contract for another season.

After arriving from Accrington last summer, Johnson operated as undisputed first choice throughout the 2020-21 season.

In total, he registered one goal and three assists in 47 appearances and made a favourable impression on supporters.

He's once expected to again play a prominent role on the south coast, having spent time watching his clips back with Cowley and assistant head coach Nicky as he seeks further improvements.

On the other hand, the plan for Mnoga at this early stage remains more uncertain.

The 19-year-old's held in high regard and Cowley made it clear he'd be activating the clause of taking up an additional year in his contract before last term was over.

However, the Blues chief was also frank that he wanted Mnoga featuring regularly in 2021-22. A target of 35 games – at any level – has been set after the defender had a largely stagnant 2020-21.

On reflection, it seems bizarre why Mnoga wasn't loaned out by Kenny Jackett during his first full pro year.

There was National League interest, with Weymouth believed to be one club keen.

Perhaps it was a compliment of Mnoga's ability he was kept around to challenge for the first team. After all, he was ahead of an established Football League player in Bolton in the pecking order.

But the teenager was confined to just nine appearances in all competitions. Factor in the fact that reserve games couldn't be organised amid the coronavirus crisis, Mnoga played nowhere near enough.

At a crucial juncture of his career, the former Trafalgar School pupil now simply needs games.

Especially when you consider Mnoga's been converted to a right-back, he requires honing in on aspects of his game – mainly in possession.

Like summer signing Liam Vincent, it points towards the fledgling pair departing Fratton Park temporarily to garner much-needed experience.

And just as one is required for Lee Brown on the left-hand side of defence, an accomplished challenger on the opposite side may now be added to Cowley's list of voids to fill.

So along with a goalkeeper, left-back, another centre-half, several additional centre-midfielders, a winger and a striker – a right-back may well now be pencilled in on Pompey's shopping list.