Appleton to step up search for financial assistance

Michael Appleton. Picture: Robin Jones
Michael Appleton. Picture: Robin Jones

Pompey manager Michael Appleton is to step up his cash-raising attempts in a bid to solve his player crisis.

The Blues boss could be left with just one outfield substitute for Saturday’s visit of Oldham.

That is the stark reality after injury and suspension have decimated his paper-thin squad.

Kevin Long is banned for one match following his red card at Carlisle.

In addition, Lee Williamson (hamstring), Adam Webster (hip), Kieran Djilali (back) and Ashley Westwood (ankle) are struggling.

More than a week ago, two fans stepped forward to pledge £40,000 between them to boost the Pompey budget and fund the wages of three potential new players.

Those gestures have since been put on the back-burner following the re-emergence of Portpin.

The pair have raised concerns over putting their money into the club if Balram Chainrai and Levi Kushnir are to return.

Administrator Trevor Birch is also loath to increase the wage bill with the club on the verge of being sold to either Portpin or the Trust.

In the meantime, Appleton’s squad continues to be stretched.

And he is seeking to set off with his begging bowl once again looking for financial assistance.

He said: ‘I think the two fans are going to make a decision on whether they put the money into the Trust.

‘The problem with that is it doesn’t help us in the short-term.

‘We’ll pursue it and see where we go with it.

‘Maybe we can have another conversation and I can speak to the guys directly. Hopefully there will be a realisation they can help in the short-term here.’

The player budget problem is far from black and white.

Birch does not believe it is appropriate to increase the wage bill in the current climate.

He is concerned such a move will give any prospective owner bigger liabilities in terms of the club payroll.

Pompey at present employ 15 first-team players, including five loanees.

In addition, there are nine first-year professionals.

In the current playing budget during administration, there is no money left for any more arrivals.

That includes the likes of Josh Thompson on loan from Celtic or any free agents such as Tom Soares.

On the other hand, Appleton is desperate to add to his squad, particularly following the latest setbacks.

The possibility of naming 13 players to face Oldham – including two goalkeepers – is very real.

With a 20-man squad deemed competitive by the Football League, Pompey’s boss is reluctant to blood any more of his promising youngsters into the first-team set-up.

At present, only Webster and Ashley Harris have represented his team in League One this season.

Appleton knows by promoting more of the former Academy players, it will count against him in that 20-man tally.

However, with Birch set to name his preferred bidder this week, the ownership matter could soon change the playing situation for the better.