Appleton explains shock Magri exit

Sam Magri during the pre-season friendly against Salisbury. Picture: Sarah Standing (122654-5972)
Sam Magri during the pre-season friendly against Salisbury. Picture: Sarah Standing (122654-5972)

Michael Appleton has lifted the lid on the shock decision to let Sam Magri join QPR.

The 18-year-old yesterday left Pompey for the Premier League side on a free transfer, although a sell-on clause has been negotiated.

It represents a disappointing end to the Fratton Park career of a footballer fans had long had high hopes for.

Magri’s England adventures at various age groups resulted in him being earmarked by many as a future skipper of the club he supports.

As it is, the defender leaves with just one first-team appearance to his name.

For Appleton, though, Magri was not going to break into his side – a view which persuaded the Blues boss to let him depart.

The need to free up wages to bring in more experienced defenders was also a consideration.

And Pompey’s manager feels the decision represents ‘good business’ for all concerned.

He said: ‘These are the decisions you have got to make.

‘I just couldn’t see Sam getting in my first team – and I will stand by it in two, three, four, five years time.

‘I wish him all the luck in the world – he’s a great lad, who trains well every day.

‘But there are probably four of the younger players who have gone ahead of him in the pecking order this year.

‘That is testament to Adam Webster, Ashley Harris and, even possibly, Jed Wallace and Alex Grant.

‘I said at the start of the season, realistically the young lads in the building are there to be cover for what we hopefully expect to be a strong squad we put together.

‘Sam is at a good age but has not played any league football and that suggests a couple of things.

‘He is not an Adam Webster, who is 17 years old and had a good taste of league football.

‘It suggests I have a doubt in my head whether he would go on and play for Portsmouth as a first-team player.

‘Steve Cotterill had a doubt in his head whether he would go on and play for Portsmouth as a first-team player. Sometimes the reality is, although a player may have gone out and played for England under-17s and under-18s, the majority of them don’t go on to play league football.

‘Now Sam may do that – all the best to him and all the best to QPR.

‘But we feel it was good business and intend to utilise that money (saved on wages) as best as we possibly can.

‘If it was Webster or Harris, there is no chance they would have walked away without a fee. The reality is I would be saying “no, that is not going to happen” and I hope that answers what I am trying to say about Sam.’

Magri’s departure comes at a time when fellow central defender Grant could face a long lay-off.

The youngster injured his knee in the 3-1 behind-closed-doors match with Swindon on Tuesday.

Appleton added: ‘Alex went over on his knee and no-one was near him.

‘We don’t know the full extent yet but it didn’t look great.

‘I feel sorry for him because he started training with the first team a lot more and the Plymouth game really helped him.

‘It shocked me a little bit, I must admit. He was the one who really stood out to me on the night. My personal opinion is he eclipsed Sam by a mile.’