Portsmouth Transfer News: Every word Danny Cowley has said about Blues’ transfer plans ahead of summer window officially opening on Friday – includes stances on George Hirst, Hayden Carter, finances, Kyle Wootton and more
Nearly 20 players have so far been linked with moves to Fratton Park.
Much has been said about the futures of those previously on loan at the Blues and the few who have yet to agree new PO4 terms.
Meanwhile, potential outgoings have also been mentioned as manager Danny Cowley looks to get his squad ready for, hopefully, a concerted promotion push next season.
If even a fraction of all the transfer talk proves to be true, it promises to be a busy couple of months for Cowley & Co.
So to help us formulate a better understanding of what lies ahead, we’ve went back over everything the Blues boss has said regarding this summer’s transfer window.
Here’s what he told The News when asked about key issues ahead of the transfer window opening officially on Friday.
Work going on behind the scenes
‘We’ve stopped playing on the pitch, but we are still working hard behind the scenes.
‘For us, we have a busy summer ahead in terms of recruitment.
‘Our ambition is to always try and improve.
‘The players are the key stakeholders, and they live it everyday.
‘We’re always looking for those marginal gains which will improve our work, so it can help us in the future.
‘We’ve got clarity about what we would like to do
‘The first point of our recruitment is to try and retain some of the players we already have here.’
Stance ahead of window officially opening on June 10
‘Ultimately, all of these clubs who are announcing players before June 10, these players aren’t actually registered with the league.
‘So really those contracts are null and void, at this moment.
‘Players who are being announced by certain clubs, those players aren’t officially their players yet. They won’t be until June 10.
‘There’s work going on behind the scenes here, though.
‘And there are things you can do to get deals into a good place. We are certainly doing that.
‘I don’t think we’d be announcing deals publicly yet, because the moment you announce them publicly you’re ultimately making everyone else aware.
‘We’re alerting everyone else.
‘Everyone will know what the EFL regulations are – and then they could potentially take those players.’
Number of signings needed
‘We would like to be in a position where we’re maybe making 5-6 changes to the squad and not nine or 10 as we envisaged this summer.
‘That’s ultimately where we are at as a football club and that’s why we’re in a transitional period.’
Transfer talks with Eisners
‘It was great we were able to talk football with Andy and Eric (following their visit to Fratton Park), talk about our plans, highlight areas we felt the club needed to improve and what provisions we felt we could improve in and how we could help them develop.
‘We spoke around the squad, contracts and recruitment. These were all really good conversations really.
‘We’re all clear on what we would like to try to achieve.
‘We absolutely, definitely came away feeling more optimistic.
‘I think they brought a real energy, enthusiasm and passion.
‘We care deeply about this club and it gives me confidence we have owners who are the same.’
Competing with League One rivals
‘It’s really important (Pompey don’t fall behind this summer), absolutely.
‘We need to make sure that’s the case.
‘We would like to do our work early, and it’s really important that when we come back for pre-season we have two-thirds to three-quarters of the squad together.
‘That time we’re not going to get back, so it’s imperative to plan, develop and evolve the team.’
‘We need to add depth, and I’d like to think we’d be able to do it.
‘We understand how recruitment works. It’s one way identifying the players – it’s another thing signing them.’
‘These (players like Carter) are the young players we should be trying to sign, for sure.
‘I’m really respectful to Blackburn Rovers, though.
‘Tony Mowbray and Mark Venus I know well, and we’re appreciative they loaned him to us.
‘I know they are pleased with how we’ve looked after him and how he’s developed.
‘For us, if we could take Hayden on either a permanent or a loan next year, we’d love to do that.
‘I think sometimes when you take players on loan, if you take them on loan with a view to a permanent, this could be a really good way to recruit for the football club.’
Being smart with finances
‘If we allocate too much money to one player, we will suffer elsewhere.
‘We are going to be a small squad and know the budget, so we must try to maximise it and utilise it to get the very best value.
‘You can maximise it in different ways. For instance, you can take an injury-prone player on less money in a contract and keep him fit and available.
‘There are many different ways to maximise your budget.’
Improving forward department
‘We’ve got clarity about what we would like to do.
‘If you look at last season, our home form was fourth in the division, and we were short of goals away from home.
‘That’s an area we can definitely improve on, and if we can add to the goals away from home, and maybe carry a bit more threat on the counter-attack with some pace, power, and athleticism at the top of the pitch, then I think some of those games when we lost we’d draw, and some of the games we drew, I think we would have won.
‘That would allow us to finish in and around those play off positions.’
‘It would be up to the club to decide what is affordable.
‘If we were able to sign George Hirst, I would strongly recommend it. I’ve said that from the beginning.
‘These are the type of young players I think we should be really trying to sign at Pompey.
‘We speak to Leicester on a regular basis, and we’re really appreciative they allowed us to take George, and I’ve been really proud of him and the way he’s worked.
‘Like all young players, success doesn’t always happen in a straight line and he’s really had to fight to get to this moment.’
‘Kyle’s one who’s on the list.
‘He’s a free agent and he’s one we’re aware of and have watched a lot of.
‘He’s a big boy at about 6ft 4in and relatively mobile for a player of his size.
‘He’s rangy and mobile with good link and hold-up play.
‘He’s also scored goals at National League level. Whether he can do it at a higher level time will tell.
‘He’s a free transfer, so I’m sure there’ll be a lot of clubs who will be interested in him.’
‘Michael had a really good run of form, then picked up that innocuous injury.
‘To remain at Fratton Park, he needs to stay injury-free and find that form again because he is a top League One player.
‘There is an option on his contract and we’ve really enjoyed Michael, he gives the team a different quality that we don’t quite possess in our other attacking players.
‘However, his time at Pompey has been fragmented because of injury – and that’s the truth.
‘If we can find a performance-related contract that works for him and for us then that would be ideal.
‘Could that happen? I think anything’s possible, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
‘For us, Marcus was a key player last season.
‘He contributed with both goals and assists.
‘We’re respectful. For us to sell Marcus it would have to be a good offer.
‘Our focus is on trying to get better. We don’t want to lose key players if we’re going to achieve this.
‘We wouldn’t want to sell Marcus unless we get a good fee, ultimately.
‘He’s a key player for us.
‘We’d have to be well remunerated to then be able to spend it to help us get better.
‘Ultimately, though, you don’t get better if you sell your best players.’
‘He made an instant impact, with the players, staff and supporters.
‘Sometimes players are a good fit and Aiden fits towards that.
‘We made him an offer but we’re also respectful that he did well.
‘As a consequence he has other offers to consider.
‘For us, unfortunately, we can only value them within the finances that we have available. That’s the reality.’
‘Loans can’t be the core – and hopefully that won’t be the case again.
‘We want our loans to be the icing and cherry on the cake.
‘If we want sustained success we are going to have to have a core who are your own players.
‘They can then give us a platform to then recruit from.’
Recruiting for the future
‘Going forward we want four or five young, exciting players who are really exciting, who have growth in them.
‘They can excel on the pitch and be an asset in the longer term for the business.
‘I see that as a really good recruitment strategy going forward.
‘We have to respect the infrastructure of our club at the moment, so we have to sign players who are ready to come in and play.
‘That’s why Denver Hume is such a good signing for us. He’s ready to come in and play, but there’s still growth in him.
‘These are the ones we need to target, maybe three or four more like Denver.
‘In our managerial career, we’ve certainly had a lot of success with these types of players.
‘The owners have shown in the past if we can develop these types of players, enjoy their success on the pitch and sell them at the right time they are willing to reinvest back into the football operation.
‘They are the ones we’d like. They’d obviously cost a bit more in terms of transfer fee, but if we can target the right clubs we can find these players on a lower wage and it’s a strategy which can work for us.’
Search for non-league talent
‘For us, we were out at games and going to games.
‘There were a lot of play-off games in non league and it’s important we get out to those levels and watch the best players there.
‘There’s some good games to watch.
‘We need to see if there is anyone we feel will be able to step up.’