Michael Appleton has been told Pompey cannot fund any more signings after Jordan Obita’s arrival.
Now the Blues boss is appealing for local businesses to help him recruit a long-time target he is adamant can ‘rip up’ League One.
Trevor Birch has instructed Appleton that the club, which remains in administration, is unable to add to the 15 players who have landed in the past week.
That leaves the squad below the 20-player mark the Football League considers as ‘competitive’.
It currently stands at 17, with those on duty against Bournemouth to be boosted by Liam Walker and loanee Obita for tonight’s trip to Colchester.
Appleton has lined-up three other free agents – a defender, midfielder and a striker – whose names he will not reveal.
It is understood around £60,000 would fund their wages until January. And the Blues boss is hoping a local businessman will be interested in footing the bill in a gesture similar to Dave Ellis.
The owner of Fareham-based Ellis Electrical donated a five-figure sum to enable the club to embark on a pre-season tour to Spain and Gibraltar.
And Appleton is desperate for someone else to come forward.
He said: ‘In an ideal world I would love a striker to walk into the building.
‘We had one all lined-up and ready to come last week but couldn’t do it because of the financial situation.
‘It would have been fantastic for us. He would have ripped this division up.
‘In an ideal world I would have an absolute minimum of three strikers.
‘We could seriously bring two or three players in – up until January – not on a massive amount of money.
‘There are people out there who could help the football club in the short-term which will certainly help it in the long term in a big, big way.
‘We are not talking masses amounts of money.
‘If there is anyone out there prepared to bring some money to the table then please contact me.
‘Just look at the players I have brought into the football club already and the ones I got in last year.
‘That should be enough to know it will be quality that comes through the building.
‘I think it would be unfair to name the striker – but he can be signed within 24 hours if we had the cash.’
Izale McLeod and Luke Rodgers are the sole strikers currently at Fratton Park, leaving Appleton’s attacking options light.
n Page 4