Cook’s Pompey transfer promise

Michael Smith's loan deal runs out before the final game of the season. Picture: Joe Pepler
Michael Smith's loan deal runs out before the final game of the season. Picture: Joe Pepler

PAUL COOK has promised Pompey won’t be left light in their promotion fight.

And the Blues boss insisted he’s ready to deal with a potential end-of-season dilemma over his attacking options.

Tomorrow sees the close of the loan window with nine games to go in the league campaign.

It’s the possibility of being involved in the play-offs which is presenting a problem for Cook, however.

Michael Smith’s 93-day loan comes to an end before the final-day meeting with Northampton Town.

That means the 24-year-old will be ruled out for the Cobblers clash and any play-offs fixtures.

Smith’s absence would leave just Marc McNulty and Conor Chaplin as out-and-out attacking options.

It’s a balancing act Cook has to quickly weigh up, especially with Pompey already possessing five loanees – the maximum amount allowed in a match-day squad.

Smith, Ryan Fulton, Marc McNulty, Matt Clarke and Kieron Freeman are the loan recruits in the Blues ranks.

Cook’s adamant, however, he’s ready to cover all eventualities.

He said: ‘Would I leave us short if we were to make it into the play-offs?

‘What is the answer to that question?

‘Absolutely not. So there’s no need to worry about asking the question. We will be all right.’

Although he’s determined to ensure all bases are covered in his Pompey squad, Cook highlighted the issues Pompey are faced with over bringing in new faces at this time of the season.

He feels there is a danger of falling into a trap of recruiting players who will not improve Pompey’s 23-man squad.

Cook reckons the pressure of responding to the clamour for signings has been felt at Fratton Park in the past.

So, in terms of building a squad to succeed for the longer term, he feels patience has to be exercised.

Cook said: ‘The biggest thing about players – and our club has been a victim of it and managers have felt it – is the trend from the crowd to keep changing players.

‘If you keep changing players I can guarantee we are not changing players for better ones. We are changing to appease people.

‘Who should we sign today? That’s a question to answer.

‘This is where there must be patience.

‘We know we have one or two deficiencies and we must solve them.

‘We are forever trying to improve our squad.

‘Our squad we feel is our squad now, though.

‘It sounds a silly thing to say but within that squad we feel we know it well.

‘The reality is until we make one or two changes over a period of time we will still get the inconsistent results.

‘The only way to get away from that is one or two changes in personnel. But we have to be patient.’