Pompey target Gary Roberts tipped for success

Simon Ferry, left, in action against Gary Roberts, then Huddersfield, in 2011
Simon Ferry, left, in action against Gary Roberts, then Huddersfield, in 2011

TRANSFER TARGET Gary Roberts has been backed to become a big Pompey favourite if he completes his proposed switch to Fratton Park

The 31-year-old attacking midfielder is widely expected to become Paul Cook’s second recruit after winger Kyle Bennett’s arrival from Doncaster Rovers last week.

Cook is believed to be chasing both Roberts and the out-of-contract Jimmy Ryan from his former club Chesterfield.

Roberts still has a year left on his current deal at the Proact Stadium and would presumably command a transfer fee.

But former Pompey midfielder Simon Ferry played alongside him at Swindon and offered a glowing reference.

Ferry said: ‘Robbo is a great player – he would be brilliant for Portsmouth.

Robbo (Roberts) is a great player – he would be brilliant for Portsmouth

Simon Ferry

‘If he does join, I think the Pompey fans would love him to be honest.

‘He has played at the high end of League One for most of his career.

‘I remember we were surprised when we got him at Swindon because he was Huddersfield’s best player.

‘It didn’t work out for him at Swindon because he is a player that needs a bit of freedom to go and play, whereas Paolo di Canio was more rigid with his team.

‘But Robbo has worked with Paul Cook so they know all about each other.

‘He can play on the wing or in the hole behind the striker, but he is very comfortable on the ball and creates a lot of chances for others.

‘He is good for the dressing room and is always bursting with energy every day.’

Ferry left Pompey at the end of last season and was left frustrated by another injury-ravaged campaign at new club Dundee.

But he has predicted bright things at Fratton Park if Cook can recruit his key targets.

‘I’ve seen Jimmy Ryan’s name mentioned,’ said Ferry.

‘He’s a central midfielder who is a very good passer with both feet. I played against him at Scunthorpe and he was a tough opponent.

‘Him and Robbo work well together and if that is the type of player that the manager is looking to sign, it looks good for Pompey.

‘Those two are players who have played at the top end of League One and they won League Two with Chesterfield so they know how to get out of that division.

‘Bennett is another good signing. He is an exciting player and it gives you an idea on what the manager is looking for with these types of players.

‘Paul Cook’s teams always pass the ball so the fans should be excited about the team he is putting together.’

Although the rumours are that Pompey are close to completing both deals, Cook was rather more guarded.

The Blues boss said: ‘I wish we were close to signing everyone that people want us to.

‘We are working hard on signings but we won’t comment on speculation.’