Pompey boss steps up striker pursuit

An injury to Luke Rodgers has prompted Michael Appleton to step up his hunt for a new striker. Picture: Allan Hutchings (123105-452)
An injury to Luke Rodgers has prompted Michael Appleton to step up his hunt for a new striker. Picture: Allan Hutchings (123105-452)
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Michael Appleton is today stepping up his Pompey striker hunt.

And the Blues manager’s need for additional strength up front was made more pressing with Luke Rodgers facing a potential spell on the sidelines.

Rodgers yesterday had a scan on a thigh injury picked up in Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Notts County, with Josh Thompson (hamstring) and Gabor Gyepes (ankle) other injury worries.

A period out for Rodgers would leave Izale McLeod as the only senior striker Appleton could call upon.

Ashley Harris and Jordan Obita are youthful options who can be used through the middle but Appleton has made it clear he needs another presence up front.

He has been working on a number of deals, with one falling flat at the end of last week.

Appleton is wary he will have to choose carefully, with most clubs not keen to send players out until January.

That is a big commitment all the time Pompey are working to a 20-man squad limit imposed by the Football League.

Kevin Long’s return to Burnley last week means Appleton has 18 players to call on.

He said: ‘We’ll get one in. We were close on Friday but things didn’t happen. So we’ll see where things go from over the next few days.

‘Kevin Long has gone back to Burnley but we’ve got a couple of big lads in there and have Johnny Ertl and Josh Thompson at the club. So a striker is where I will be focusing this week.

‘We’re short there. It’s not a lack of quality, really more a bit of belief and presence.

‘Someone coming in could provide the spark we need.

‘We would probably have to take them for three months.

‘If we are working on a 20-player rule, it’s not a case of whether we will take someone and have them around for a month because we might need them. If we take them they are here until January.

‘Three months is a huge commitment, especially with the amount of players.

‘I can’t even make that commitment to permanent players at the moment. It’s a big, big risk.

‘If we are a normal club with a normal squad it’s no issue at all.

‘But we are working on the edge every week.’

Although Appleton is confident of getting a new recruit in this week, Obita and Harris are both players who could come into his thinking for the weekend visit of Scunthorpe.

He said: ‘Jordan will be here for another month which is good.

‘He can play up top centrally or play on the right.

‘Jordan has bags of pace and we will use him at the right time.

‘He has a directness about him which helps.

‘We have Ashley as well, who has looked effective as an impact player so far.

‘He has not been as effective in the games he’s started.’