Those Pompey players we never heard from again

Agonit Sallaj is friendly action for Pompey against Bolton last summer
Agonit Sallaj is friendly action for Pompey against Bolton last summer

The platform has been constructed, the audience have settled into their seats – enter stage left Ryan Bird and Michael Bryan.

The triallist duo will get the opportunity to show their worth in real game time at the Hawks on Tuesday night.

Having spent the previous week training with the Blues, it represents a golden chance to convince those watching.

Certainly, such pre-season fixtures in the past have seen many pass through Fratton Park, stopping only to pull on a shirt in a friendly or two before continuing on with their journey.

Last summer, nine triallists who turned out in friendlies for Michael Appleton’s team were not signed.

Others, such as Brian Howard, Jon Harley, Liam Walker, Luke Rodgers and Simon Eastwood, penned month-to-month deals.

Those who remained had differing success at Fratton Park, those who did not ended up in destinations varying from non-league and the French fourth division to Gibraltar and Switzerland.

Few of those rejected have shown Pompey they made a mistake.

In fairness, Lloyd Sam was turned away and next popped up with the New York Red Bulls in August 2012.

The former Charlton midfielder spent 10 days with Appleton’s squad in Benahavis during the tour to Spain, taking in games against Gibraltar and Brighton.

Upon his return, he would seek employment in MLS, where he made five appearances for the Red Bulls until a knee injury ended his campaign early.

Enough was seen, though, to offer Sam a new contract in January, keeping him at a club which also boasts Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill.

Another triallist who would play against Gibraltar and Brighton was keeper David Preece.

He would eventually find a club in December 2012 in the form of Blue Square Bet Premier side Lincoln City.

He remained with the Imps until April, making eight appearances before leaving for Icelandic side Keflavik.

Preece would share goalkeeping duties in Pompey’s friendly against Brighton with Jordan Perez, a triallist from Gibraltan side Lincoln. Perez would return to his club, winning the Gibraltan premier division last season by 11 points.

Then there was French-Algerian winger Julien Lopez. He didn’t impress the Blues and spent last season with Consolat Marseille, playing five games for the French division four outfit.

Completing the squad in Spain was Simon Gillett, who started both matches and joined Nottingham Forest shortly after.

The defensive midfielder was a regular in the first half of the season, making 27 appearances. But following Billy Davies’ employment as City Ground boss in February, he never played again that term.

Pompey fans may also remember Glenn Morris, who kept goal against Aldershot, Bolton and AFC Wimbledon during the pre-season.

He ended up at Aldershot in August 2012 on an initial six-month deal which was extended until the end of the season, playing five times.

Albanian international defender Agonit Sallaj featured for the Blues against Aldershot and Bolton, but ended up at FC Fribourg, who play in the third tier of Swiss football.

A friendly at Salisbury on August 11, 2012, proved to be the last of the pre-season and a team containing the development group and several triallists.

Among a Pompey XI who lost 2-1 was goalkeeper Jordan Santiago and former Watford defender Jerel Ifil.

Santiago later joined Dutch club SC Veendam and had a trial at West Ham in March but is currently without a club.

Ifil last season played for Sutton United, Boreham Wood and Staines, re-registering with the later for this season.

Who knows what the future holds for Bird, Bryan and other triallists who appear for Pompey this summer.

From past experience, the likelihood is you may never see those who fail to impress ever again.