Transfer window: Key Portsmouth questions answered as Danny Cowley heads into final week with much to do

With little more than a week to go until the summer transfer window slams shut, we’ve turned to our senior Pompey writer, Jordan Cross, for an assessment on where things stand for Pompey.

By Mark McMahon
Monday, 23rd August 2021, 1:03 pm

It promises to be another busy period for boss Danny Cowley behind the scenes as he attempts to put the finishing touches to his side.

But just how successful will he be?

Well, let Mr Cross – a man in the know when it comes to all things Pompey – shed some light on what to expect…

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Q So Jordan, let’s cut to the chase – Danny Cowley wants at least another three players. Will he be successful?

I sense things were a little quiet over the weekend, but I don’t think that’s an indication of how things will pan out.

Danny Cowley stated clearly after the Doncaster game that there’s no movement.

There’s a couple of nibbles of interest for players but nothing of any real substance. That, of course, can change very quickly.

From left: Ronan Curtis, Danny Cowley and Ellis Harrison

There’s so many different parameters at play.

But my belief is that there will be success with at least two players, possibly three and possibly even more, depending on outgoings before the close of the window.

Q We know Cowley wants a right-sided centre-back, a creative midfielder and a striker – but which position is his priority?

It’s well defined that the requirements are an attacking midfielder who can play in the No8 or No10 position; a striker – possibly depending on outgoings; and a right-sided defender who can play right centre-back and allow Danny Cowley to operate with a three-man defence and also at right-back.

Again, this raises questions over the future of Callum Johnson, something which The News highlighted last week.

So a lot to do, but I think Cowley’s priority will be the No8/10 position given Gassan Ahadme’s inconsistent form so far this season on the back of an excellent pre-season which raised ambitions.

There’s been question marks over how he would take on board Cowley’s game idea – and it’s been clear to see that he hasn’t quite hit the heights, although he did impress in the second half against Doncaster.

I think that would be the priority but, make no bones about it, a new number nine and a defender isn’t far behind.

Q Is it fair to say that the calibre of player recruited will depend on outgoings?

Yes – that is an absolutely reasonable assesment to make.

Danny Cowley has been quite up front and honest about how the transfer window could pan out.

And as much as he’s said publically, he’s intimated that the avenues are – firstly, a premium player going, which could be Ronan Curtis and to a lesser extent Marcus Harness. If that was to generate substantial income in the millions then that can really open doors.

Second route would be for Cowley to manipulate the existing squad, players on the periphery going out – Callum Johnson, Ellis Harrison, and perhaps even allow one or two to head out on loan to free up some budget in order to bring players in.

If there was no movement on any of those two scenarios, then it would be looking to the loan market at different levels, with those levels being Championship players who are part of clubs who want them off the wage bill; or Premier League clubs who are looking at it from a sporting motivation angle to get their players experience.

The latter would probably be the way Cowley wants to go if there wasn’t much money left in the budget.

So many routes they can go down and it’s hard to definitively say which would be the way at the moment.

Q Are Pompey actively encouraging bids for certain players?

I think it’s fair to say that there have been noises about certain players.

The News understands that Callum Johnson is someone the Blues wouldn’t stand in the way of if a bid was made.

We’ve had similar stories regarding Ellis Harrison, so these types of stories do spring to the surface and some would say it’s no coincidence that they do.

But Danny Cowley, obviously finds himself in a position where he needs to work the budget.

It’s a way of initiating negotiations, every player is available to different degrees and it’s known that Cowley will be allowed to ‘eat what he kills’ – a phrase which came from above.

So that intimates that he can get money from whatever he sells, so it’s natural that they would encourage bids for certain players.

Q Has anyone asked to leave or are those linked with moves happy to remain at Fratton Park and be on the periphery of things?

I think Danny Cowley has been very up front with his players – he’s kept them fully briefed on developments.

But I think he’s got a good bunch of players at the moment.

Of course, those who aren’t looking like they will be central figures in the squad would be naturally looking to what could happen between now and the end of the window.

I’m sure a move to Oxford United would probably appeal to Ellis Harrison, and likewise Callum Johnson, who looks like he could have limited playing opportunities.

But I don’t feel anyone, if they were here beyond the window, would be unhappy if a move wasn’t sealed.

There’s been plenty of dialogue and honesty on all parts rather than people actively agitating for moves.

Ronan Curtis is a clear example. He’s had an excellent attitude despite saying publically that he wants to test himself at a higher level.

Although, there would be natural disappointment if he wasn’t to move and that raises other potential problems or challenges for Pompey beyond the window.

I wouldn’t say anyone is actively, forcibly trying to get themselves out the door and causing problems to do so.

Q Last one – do we need an ultra-late late shift on the sports desk next Tuesday night in order to cover any last-minute deals?I’ll be honest – I think it is likely to go to the wire.

We’ve been waiting a long time for the dominos to fall at a higher level and for them to trickle down to League One.

Although that must be caveated with the fact that, in the case of Ronan Curtis, Pompey need the time to react.

I think there’s been intimations from Cowley that they wouldn’t be prepared to let players go if they didn’t have the replacements.

That said, Danny is a diligent man and I think he’s got players in place for all eventualities.

But again, it could then lead to frenetic business being concluded fairly close or up to the wire.