Timing odd but position not as key area must be addressed by Portsmouth in summer amid transfer link

It's still more than three months until the summer transfer window officially opens.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 6:30 pm

We don't even know whether it will be the Cowley brothers or a new man in charge depending on this season's outcome.

Still, the transfer rumour mill has churned out a name.

St Johnstone striker Guy Melamed is supposedly being tracked by Pompey, having registered five goals and three assists in 15 appearances in Scotland this season.

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In truth, the timing of the link is a surprise. Given Danny and Nicky Cowley have been at the Fratton Park helm less than a week, it's safe to say that, if there is any substance behind the gossip, they were not responsible for the scouting of Melamed.

However, what doesn't come as a shock is the position of the player Pompey have been credited with an interest in.

Whether it is the Cowleys in charge or a new management team, whether the Blues remain in League One or reach the Championship, the top end of the pitch will need addressing this summer.

Even with two natural number nines still under contract for another year, whoever is in the driving seat will surely covet additional firepower.

Ellis Harrison, right, and John Marquis. Picture: Joe Pepler

The three strikers currently at Pompey – John Marquis Ellis Harrison and Jordy Hiwula – have scored just 17 league goals between them this campaign. Not enough for any side seeking promotion.

Marquis has 13 of those and has led the line for the majority of the campaign.

Bar a purple patch between October and November, however, his goalscoring hasn't been consistent enough. Since the turn of the year, he has bagged only five times.

Effort and application have always been there from the ex-Millwall man, but often all-round play hasn’t.

In fairness, it's widely regarded that former boss Kenny Jackett failed to get the best out of Marquis, who had so many supporters excited when he was recruited from Doncaster.

But on the evidence we have witnessed since his move for almost £1m in July 2019, significant improvements are still needed to justify the lofty price tag paid and his wage as one of the club's top earners.

Harrison's not an out-and-out goalscorer, instead offering more of a focal point to allow fellow forwards to take the credit.

But after a highly encouraging maiden season following a £450,000 arrival from Ipswich in June 2019, he hasn't quite kicked on as many expected this term.

Of his four league goals, just one has been from open play and the rest from the penalty spot.

To be frank, it's difficult to see Hiwula penning an extension to his Pompey stay.

After arriving on a free transfer in October, the former Coventry man has spent the majority of the season on the periphery.

Saturday's 2-1 defeat of Ipswich represented his maiden league start at Fratton Park – and that was only because of injuries to Marquis and Harrison.

With the latter sidelined for the final 11 games, Hiwula's likely to get more opportunities than in the previous six months.

But given he was also a bit-part player at the Sky Blues last term, the 26-year-old will surely crave a new start and the promise of regular action elsewhere after two years of frustration.

That, therefore, will free up a berth that will require filling by another senior player.

And based on form this season, the recruit must be an upgrade if Pompey are to mount another Championship challenge or to survive in the second tier.