Three in – but League Two proving Pompey barrier

Kyle Bennett played League One football for Doncaster Rovers last season Picture: Howard Roe
Kyle Bennett played League One football for Doncaster Rovers last season Picture: Howard Roe
  • Stevens, Bennett and Naismith summer recruits so far
  • A total of 11 players have left Pompey since the end of the season

THEY generate the largest attendances in League Two and possess one of the biggest playing budgets.

But Pompey have admitted their League Two surroundings are hampering Paul Cook’s recruitment drive.

The football club is enticing to everyone you speak to, that is not an issue. What we have to deal with is the fact we are in League Two.

Ian Foster

Enda Stevens, Kyle Bennett and Kal Naismith are the Fratton Park additions during the new boss’ first month in charge.

Going the other way have been 11 departures, of which only Jed Wallace has warranted a transfer fee.

Cook, assistant manager Leam Richardson and first-team coach Ian Foster continue striving to bring in fresh blood – and yesterday Stevens joined on a two-year deal.

In the case of the former Aston Villa left-back and Bennett, both have been willing to drop down the leagues.

But despite Pompey’s obvious attractions at this level, Foster conceded others are being deterred by the prospect of parachuting into the bottom division of the Football League.

Foster said: ‘There is no problem whatsoever attracting people to come down to Portsmouth, not at all.

‘The difficulty is the level we find ourselves.

‘We don’t have to sell the club to people when we pick up the phone.

‘It’s not “This is Portsmouth Football Club here and we have an average of 16,000 fans”, it’s not that at all.

‘Players are quite willing to speak to us, but you have to appreciate when you are asking a player who can play comfortably in the league above to come down a league that it can be difficult.

‘You have to respect that when speaking to players.

‘We have to take stock of where we are at the moment. The football club is enticing to everyone you speak to, that is not an issue. What we have to deal with is the fact we are in League Two.

‘Some players, the likes of Kyle Bennett, come from League One, but that will not always be the case so you have to be patient.

‘Coming to Portsmouth is not an issue, they are excited when you speak on the phone. Certainly, in my experience when recruiting players, it is not “I don’t fancy that”.

‘But players are ambitious and want to play at the highest level they possibly can and I respect that, we all respect that.

‘All we can do is try our best to recruit who we feel are the best players to take Pompey forward.

‘It’s not all about money. Players, in my experience, are not focused on how much they are going to pick up. There is a perception footballers are like that, but generally they are not.

‘They want to play at the highest level they possibly can because their career is very short.

‘If they are better than the level and can get clubs at a higher level, it is always going to be difficult – and it’s not even about us then saying “We are going to give you more money”.’

Stevens made nine first-team appearances for Aston Villa after joining from Shamrock Rovers in the summer of 2012.

The 24-year-old spent the majority of last season on loan at Doncaster Rovers in League One, featuring 34 times and scoring once.

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