Temporary deals part of Pompey's long-term plan

The platform of his programme notes was used to emphatically convey the point.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 8th February 2018, 11:00 am
Connor Ronan, top, and Anton Walkes, two, may be loans but they are far from quick-fixes. Picture: Joe Pepler
Connor Ronan, top, and Anton Walkes, two, may be loans but they are far from quick-fixes. Picture: Joe Pepler

At the end of what was universally being perceived as a disappointing transfer deadline day, Mark Catlin was keen to have his say.

‘Much has been made of our business,’ said Pompey’s chief executive, on the subject of the final day of the window.

Catlin was, of course, referencing in slightly understated fashion the late-night furore at a perceived lack of action on Wednesday night.

All anyone doubting the strength of feeling over the Blues’ business had to do was take a peruse down Michael Eisner’s Twitter timeline, for the responses to the club’s owner congratulating Catlin and Kenny Jackett on their work.

Kyle Bennett’s exit being preceded by the unfortunate Stephen Henderson’s loan arrival, was enough to have the mood of the online Fratton faithful reaching fever pitch.

A gap in midfield experience, opting to put resources in signing an additional keeper and preference for bringing in loans were the three main bones of contention. It the was latter which drew Catlin’s focus.

‘One point a lot of fans has been raising is that all four of the players we brought in last month are on loan from other clubs,’ Catlin continued.

‘However, bar one player, there’s either a contracted or verbal agreement we can purchase should we wish to do so in the summer.’

That’s a clear and emphatic response to those frustrated at the thought Pompey are developing other clubs’ players at the detriment of their own emerging talent.

It’s also an insight into the manner Jackett is working on a mid-to-long term basis when it comes to his squad planning.

The loan quartet – Connor Ronan, Sylvain Deslandes, Anton Walkes and Henderson – all fall into that category.

Henderson, Deslandes and Walkes are the trio Catlin is referring to when talking of agreements.

Ronan, meanwhile, is highly regarded at parent club Wolves where he is contracted until the summer of 2019.

But with Nuno Espírito Santo’s side on the way to the Premier League and prepared to continue spending when they get there, the 19-year-old’s path to senior football appears one blocked by big-money talent.

Which leaves Pompey and the man who was boss when he moved to Molineux in 2016, in a good position to strike should Ronan be deemed surplus to requirements.

With Walkes offering versatility and Deslandes operating in a left-back role where talent is at a premium, both represent assets for what lies ahead beyond this season. The same can be said of the two other loans still at the club in Stuart O’Keefe and Matty Kennedy.

It’s Henderson’s signing which offers an insight into the manner in which planning is to the fore.

Despite the middle of the park being highlighted as an area where Pompey needed immediate experience, it was the opportunity to land the Irishman Jackett seized upon when it presented itself, with midfield targets faltering.

To most, with the promising Luke McGee in situ, it was a position which could have waited to be bolstered, certainly until the summer.

Although contracted for another year, there’s a path to a Fratton Park future for Henderson when he recovers from his second-debut injury.

It may not seem a priority now but there’s little doubt McGee and Henderson vying to start in a crucial area of the pitch would be as strong as it gets for goalkeepers in League One next season.

With five points still the gap to the play-offs, the right rhetoric is being peddled regarding this term’s ambitions.

But, even in the shape of loans, it’s clear building blocks are being put in place with more than an eye being cast to the squad’s future.