'They would have helped Portsmouth moving forward' - Danny Cowley reveals disappointment at losing out-of-contract quartet

Danny Cowley has spoken of his disappointment after being unable to retain Pompey’s out-of-contract quartet.

By Neil Allen
Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 2:30 pm
Ryan Williams has not accepted a new contract with Pompey and appears to have played his final match for the club. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ryan Williams has not accepted a new contract with Pompey and appears to have played his final match for the club. Picture: Joe Pepler

However, he is adamant tabled financial offers to Jack Whatmough, Ben Close, Ryan Williams and Tom Naylor ‘will not change’.

The quartet missed last Friday’s club-imposed deadline to accept fresh Fratton Park deals.

It is understood all four were offered significantly reduced terms when compared to their existing Fratton Park contracts, which expire at the end of next month.

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That is echoed by Cowley – yet Pompey’s head coach admits he is now looking at ‘other alternatives’.

He told The News: ‘They have been offered contracts and are all players we have really enjoyed working with.

‘They are also players that we feel would help our team moving forward.

‘There are some deadlines in place, those deadlines have now passed, but in football you never say never.

‘We are pretty clear on what we can do and what we can offer them, that won’t change.

‘However, we are now looking at other alternatives ourselves because that is our prerogative and what we need to do.

‘The truth is, the market value of players in League One has changed. It’s different today in 2021 than it was in 2020 – and certainly a lot different to 2019 – as we come though the pandemic.

‘I think everybody is realising that in football.

‘We feel we have made them good offers. It is absolutely their prerogative to decide whether they take those offers.

‘It will be up to them and their representatives to help them make informed, intelligent decisions by speaking to other clubs and seeing what is available for them.’

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Should the quartet now leave Fratton Park, as expected by Cowley and Catlin, it ramps up this summer’s recruitment challenge.

Of those 11 players out of contract, only Haji Mnoga has been retained, with the Blues activating a 12-month option on the defender.

That leaves a first-team squad of 12 players at present, which includes Mnoga, who could well be loaned out for experience.

It also consists of Ronan Curtis, who is eager to test himself in the Championship next season following three years at Fratton Park.

The remaining contracted players are Alex Bass, James Bolton, Paul Downing, Sean Raggett, Lee Brown, Marcus Harness, John Marquis, Callum Johnson, Ellis Harrison and Michael Jacobs.

It will clearly be a hectic summer of recruitment for Cowley, yet he is relishing the opportunity.

He added: ‘We have a huge amount of work to do, there is no hiding from that.

‘It’s a great challenge and one we are really enjoying.’

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