Busy times ahead as Appy begins squad overhaul

Greg Halford, left, and Jason Pearce at the City Ground, but not in the Pompey matchday squad
Greg Halford, left, and Jason Pearce at the City Ground, but not in the Pompey matchday squad

Michael Appleton surveyed the wreckage of Pompey’s disastrous season and pledged: Next year with be different.

The worst campaign for a generation of Blues supporters came to a close with a 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest.

Not that it was enough to silence a magnificent 2,319 away following, many of which were sporting fancy dress at the City Ground.

Pompey’s ownership situation has still to be resolved, while the club remains entrenched in administration.

Yet Appleton has already begun to plot the future following the re-opening of the transfer window.

Jason Pearce and Greg Halford are expected by the Blues boss to leave Fratton Park by the end of today.

More will follow as he looks to rip up the squad and effectively start from scratch.

If allowed to transform his squad and its soaring wage bill, Pompey’s manager is anticipating a brighter campaign ahead.

He said: ‘Things are going to be very, very different next year.

‘To be honest, in the last 10 minutes I was stood there at the side thinking about what I am going to do over the next few weeks and how I am going to be better and big, big changes to the football club.

‘Today I will continue to do what I have been for the past two weeks and that is speaking to players, clubs and agents.

‘It is obviously going to be a very, very busy period over the next couple of months.

‘The likelihood is of 16, 17 or 18 leaving and the same coming through the door.

‘It is going to be a busy time for Portsmouth.

‘There are one or two that could possibly stay, as well as the Academy lads.

‘It will be the best for everyone involved, the players, the football club, the players leaving and the players coming in.

‘Dave (Kitson) wasn’t in the squad, Benjani wasn’t in the squad, King wasn’t in the squad.

‘Basically I don’t think they’ve got a future at the football club. It’s as simple as that.

‘I am not aware of any offers for them, we are open to suggestions, but I am sure over the coming weeks there will be talks between player representatives and the administrators.

‘Tal has got an injury (calf) and has not trained for the past two weeks. He wasn’t fit enough to travel anyway.

‘I will be speaking to all the players regardless of whether they leave or not over the next 10 days-two weeks.

‘I want to give them an indication of what we are trying to do as a club.’

A Dexter Blackstock double in the final 20 minutes condemned the Blues to a losing end to their season.

It also gave Steve Cotterill a victory over his former club in what had been a tight affair.

There was certainly no disgrace from a Pompey side missing regulars Pearce and Halford and again fielding teenager Ashley Harris.

And Appleton was pleased with his team’s display in its final outing before the squad is massively overhauled.

He added: ‘There was nothing in the game really.

‘It was a little bit end-to-end at times, nothing in it at all.

‘My fear was when we lost possession of the ball whether we had enough defensive-minded players to do their jobs properly – but there were some good performances today.

‘It was a difficult game to be involved in to be honest.

‘It was one probably both sides could have done without under the circumstances.

‘I thought they were professional and gave our crowd at least something to cheer about.

‘We were going right to the end and the crowd appreciated that.’