Those left behind at Pompey who fear Cook’s axe

Danny Hollands. Picture: Joe Pepler
Danny Hollands. Picture: Joe Pepler
  • Nine depart in Cook cull but 14 remain at Fratton Park
  • Numbers include two goalkeepers and likely departure Jed Wallace

As the smoke disperses following the dropping of those Fratton Park bombshells, those left behind begin to emerge.

Still standing are 14 contracted players, first-teamers left relatively untouched by Paul Cook’s brutal cull on Monday.

Safe – for now.

Yet as the new manager has already demonstrated, change is not to be feared in his ruthless pursuit of assembling a side to challenge for promotion.

And from now on, those that remain will be nervously glancing at their mobile phones in the hope Cook’s number doesn’t flash up.

Unquestionably, the Blues boss is presently focusing on recruitment, particularly in the free agent market.

However there are 14 existing players, among them several highly susceptible to further exits, irrespective of the length of current contracts.

That tally contains two goalkeepers and Jed Wallace, emphasising the uneasy make-up of the group.

As for Adam Webster, the deal has been tabled, yet not signed. As a result, he cannot be included in the 14.

Of course, Wallace is anticipated to be leaving Fratton Park this summer, Cook and Iain McInnes the latest to concede defeat in clinging on to the midfielder.

It is very much a case of when the 21-year-old departs as the club braces itself for interested parties to meet the £275,000 clause contained in his contract.

Certainly don’t expect Wallace to still be present for the return to pre-season training on June 29.

Presuming the positions of Paul Jones and Michael Poke are stable – and there is presently nothing to suggest either are under threat – attention turns to the remaining 10 outfield players.

Firstly there is Craig Westcarr, who has had previous with Cook at Chesterfield.

Within two weeks of arriving as Spireites’ boss in October 2012, Cook transfer listed the striker before shipping him out on loan to Walsall.

By January 2013, it was mutually agreed to cancel Westcarr’s contract, allowing him to move to the Saddlers on a permanent basis.

Back to the present, the 30-year-old is contracted at Pompey until the summer of 2016, yet has largely struggled to impress during his maiden campaign.

No such concerns over James Dunne, Paul Robinson and Matt Tubbs, who have all shone this season and are considered by the majority of the Fratton faithful as key figures in a potentially bright future.

Similarly, Jack Whatmough is battling to return from a cruciate knee ligament injury before Christmas, yet continues to be a prize asset.

In addition, Ben Close’s contract has been extended and Conor Chaplin is an exciting prospect.

Matters are not quite so clear-cut for Danny Hollands, however, who endured a deeply frustrating season after his loan was made permanent.

Andy Barcham’s effectiveness and availability continues to be troubled by injury, while Johnny Ertl has become nothing more than a squad player.

In addition, midfielder Nigel Atangana faded after a bright start as he adjusts to the Football League.

The axe, as ever, is held by Cook.