Appy closing in on targets

Pompey boss Michael Appleton has identified his Pompey targets
Pompey boss Michael Appleton has identified his Pompey targets

Blues boss Michael Appleton insists he is closing in on new signings as his squad transformation gathers pace.

Appy wants to sign up 18 players this summer in a massive overhaul.

The new recruits would potentially join the likes of Kelvin Etuhu and Marko Futacs in the Pompey ranks, along with youngsters Adam Webster, Ashley Harris and Sam Magri.

As it stands, the Football League’s registration embargo prohibits the Blues from signing anyone.

Regardless, Appleton has held talks with a number of players he wants in his squad for next season in League One.

Out-of-contract Barnet striker Izale McLeod is one who has already been linked with a switch to Fratton Park.

The Pompey boss is eager to have his targets in place, ready for deals to be sealed once a new owner can be found and the club comes out of administration.

Former owner Balram Chainrai is currently in the box seat for a Fratton return.

In the meantime, Appleton is pleased with how his recruitment is going.

He said: ‘It is going okay. Obviously, it has been a busy period but that is part and parcel considering the amount of players we need.

‘We’ve been working hard speaking to a number of players over the last month or so, looking to get them signed.

‘The other day I was in London meeting a couple of players and those talks went well.

‘That’s something I have been doing on a regular basis.

‘All I need now is an owner to get on board very, very quickly and give me a budget next season so I can put plans into place.

‘As far as I am concerned, though, you can agree on terms without signing a contract.

‘You have got to have a little bit of good faith both ways, especially with our situation, but a lot of the talks have been really positive.

‘You are chasing your tail a little bit at times and other clubs, obviously, have the opportunity to put offers to players straight away.

‘I am not in that position at this moment in time.

‘But the feedback I am getting is really good and I’m positive about the whole thing.’

Pompey’s recruitment plans will hinge on their ability to ship out the high earners this summer.

Interest has been shown in Greg Halford, Luke Varney and David Norris.

In addition, agent Pini Zahavi has claimed Tal Ben Haim is being targeted by a number of clubs.

Meanwhile, Joel Ward is being chased by Leeds, Palace, Burnley, Ipswich Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool.

Appleton, however, acknowledges it is going to be a tough ask bringing in the numbers he requires.

He added: ‘I have got a goal of 18 players – even if I don’t know if it is possible.

‘That’s what I am going to try to do, though.

‘That is my goal and what I am aiming to pull off this summer.

‘It is going to be really difficult, I appreciate that, but I am really going to try.’