Jordan Cross takes a look at the January transfer window and assesses the potential for any Pompey business over the month ahead.
Caolan Lavery was the difference between the play-offs and automatic promotion last season.
Pompey’s bid to get out of League Two at the fourth attempt could rest on finding a similar goal threat this month.
Lavery’s understanding with fellow front man Marc McNulty looked like powering Paul Cook’s side out of the division a touch over a year ago.
The Canadian-born talent grabbed four goals in six games, with McNulty bagging five in as many outings as their link-up flourished.
The clamour was strong for Lavery to sign permanently. Fears over being hit with a heavy fee at a tribunal and his contentment to run down a contract at Sheffield Wednesday ensured it didn’t materialise. It’s a scenario Cook privately accepts had a seismic impact on his team’s hopes of going up.
Now the Blues boss goes into this transfer window with a similar player at the top of his shopping list.
The January sales are up and running, after the shutters came up on the window yesterday.
Views no doubt vary strongly on which areas of Cook’s squad need surgery the most.
Many fans still harbour reservations over David Forde midway through his season-long loan spell from Millwall.
Vast experience and a commanding presence hasn’t been enough to convince many Pompey fans he’s solved the problem position of recent years.
Mistakes arguably have arrived against the likes of Newport, Blackpool, Wycombe, Doncaster and Stevenage. Such is the lot of a keeper.
Cook’s support is steadfast, however, with his focus lying elsewhere.
A ‘handful’ of a forward is the Blues boss’ priority. One which dovetails with the attacking options he currently has.
Noel Hunt, Michael Smith, Conor Chaplin and Curtis Main are the quartet he currently can call on.
Smith has found his feet in recent weeks, Hunt has offered experience with his cameos and Chaplin remains the club’s bankable asset.
Main, though, has not started a league game for a week short of four months. Much of that time has see him missing through an abdominal injury Pompey are struggling to explain after a number of scans. Patience is wearing thin.
Just where Cook could turn for recruitments is certain to keep us entertained over the coming weeks.
The Scouser spent much of the summer trailing Lee Novak, before he moved to Charlton.
Novak hasn’t set the world alight at The Valley and was available this month, but is now sidelined with a knee problem.
But you can expect the likes of John Akinde, Marc McNulty, Nicky Ajose, Steve Davies and players of their ilk to be the sort of names thrown into the January rumour mill.
With Smith’s height and Chaplin’s poacher’s instinct, a dynamo of a player could be the way Cook goes. A younger Hunt, if you like.
There is some cash in the kitty, but much may depend on how the Blues boss can manoeuvre his 28-man squad.
Getting fringe youngsters fit, out on loan and playing will be one focus.
Having two right-backs behind a makeshift man performing well in the role another.
Cook says he’s pleased with his squad, but it’s crucial additions now improve his options. It’s not just improvement they have to deliver – it’s promotion, too.