Pompey place contract talks on hold

Ben Davies. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ben Davies. Picture: Joe Pepler
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POMPEY are putting contract talks on the backburner to focus on their promotion charge.

The Blues believe discussions over new deals need to put to one side with eight games of the League Two season remaining.

And chief executive, Mark Catlin, stated that will be the case with it crucial all attentions are on the bid to get out of the division.

A total of six of Paul Cook’s first-team squad see their current deals come to a close at the end of the campaign.

Danny Hollands, Ben Davies, Gareth Evans, Ben Tollitt, Brian Murphy and Brandon Haunstrup are the players out of contract.

Hollands last week told The News he is eager to stay, while Davies has expressed concern his contract is ticking ever closer to expiry.

There has been talks for Davies over a new deal after impressing since his arrival last summer.

But Catlin made it clear all of that needs to be put on hold for now with all of the players.

That echoes the words coming from Cook himself, who has called for focus as the season reaches its critical climax.

Catlin said: ‘With regard to contracts, we’ve left that until the end of the season now.

‘It’s important we don’t want minds deviating from what is immediately in front of us and what the focus should be. That has to be the focus for everyone now.

‘Our season could potentially end in the next five weeks.

‘So that’s where the attentions should be for now.’

Cook currently has a squad of 24 senior players at his disposal.

That includes six loan players following the addition of Conor Wilkinson to his ranks last Wednesday.

Wilkinson joins Marc McNulty, Kieron Freeman, Ryan Fulton and Matt Clarke as the players here on temporary deals until the end of the campaign.

On top of that, Michael Smith’s 93-day loan from Swindon ends before the final-day clash with Northampton.

Cook is constantly looking at how best to shape his options moving forward.

Catlin believes the Pompey boss will speak to individuals on an informal basis, if any issues are raised over deals.

But that will not equate to any meaningful negotiations taking place at the moment.

Catlin said: ‘Paul will keep the players abreast of what’s going on if he feels it is necessary to talk to them.

‘That’s in the hands of the manager really.

‘But there are no real negotiations, in the way I would regard it, ongoing with the players.

‘It’s only what the manager dictates to myself the board.

‘We don’t really want to be talking about individuals at the moment.

‘As a collective, it’s important there’s a recognition we’ve got eight games to go.

‘The focus should be on those eight games – not about contracts.’