Shadow squad in place as Pompey braced for exodus

Pompey have lined-up a whole new first-team squad in January.

That is the safety net constructed as the Blues brace themselves for a player exodus.

With 14 out of contract – in addition to four currently on loan – caretaker boss Guy Whittingham has already voiced expectations of departures.

It’s a worst-case scenario anticipated by a club which has already named 43 different players in their squads this season.

Luke Dowling insists no player has yet indicated they will be walking out of Fratton Park next month when their contract expires.

Nonetheless, the head of recruitment – along with Whittingham and Andy Awford – have identified replacements for every position.

Inevitably, the loan market will be heavily relied upon to provide Pompey with first-team players.

Players expected to secure a mutual release from their clubs next month are also targets.

Although Dowling realistically believes there are unlikely to be any current free agents pursued.

Plans are in place, the wheels have been set in motion.

Now Pompey are waiting on departures, budgets and the outcome of a certain court case to see what happens next to an ever-evolving squad.

Dowling said: ‘We have 18 players out of contract in January at some stage, having all been signed at different times.

‘It means we have got to be planning in terms of they all could possibly leave.

‘We have lined players up in all positions. You don’t know who is going to go and have to expect the worst.

‘No player has said they want to go at the moment. We don’t want anyone to leave but we cannot stop that.

‘Ultimately, if players here want to stay and we want them to stay it makes that list a little shorter.

‘It is about being prepared, though, and we are doing all we can to be ready for next month.

‘We will be reliant on the loan market and it would be nice if we could secure a few longer-term, although that is dependant on coming out of administration.

‘The other alternative will be to get someone who potentially has got a free transfer next month.

‘There may be players who clubs are willing to let leave in January and will pay them up to become free.

‘Although, they may not have played all season and are unfit – or may have done bits and pieces, it varies.

‘As for current free agents out there, how many of them are left?

‘One or two – but probably not worth looking at.

‘There are players lined-up. We are still very professional off the field here.’

Inevitably, the identity of any arrivals will hinge on the playing budget.

But that figure depends on the outcome of the High Court case with Portpin.

Dowling added: ‘When you speak to agents and players they still want answers about the club they are coming into.

‘There are players who want to come here, definitely, but stability is a concern.

‘Hopefully there will eventually be good news from the Supporters’ Trust.’