Appleton has solution to goalkeeping conundrum

Jamie Ashdown has been shown the door by Pompey. Picture: Allan Hutchings (121352-825)
Jamie Ashdown has been shown the door by Pompey. Picture: Allan Hutchings (121352-825)

Pompey’s squad will be ripped up as Michael Appleton seeks to start afresh.

Except a glaring hole has already been bored deep into his blueprint for a fresh future.

Namely the lack of a single goalkeeper on the club’s books.

Stephen Henderson has been sold, while Jamie Ashdown’s contract has not been renewed.

Even young pretender Matt Gledhill has been shown the door having failed to convince Pompey Academy staff he is worthy of a first-year professional contract.

Three goalkeepers, three summer departures.

Little surprise then the position represents one of the over-riding concerns for Appleton as he maintains his summer recruitment drive.

It is certainly a scenario which has puzzled supporters, particularly following the Ashdown decision.

The pre-season opener against the Hawks is just six weeks away.

That is roughly the same period it was recently claimed it could take for the club to come out of administration and get the registration embargo removed.

The Pompey boss, though, insists he already has two targets lined up.

Young, interested, backed by game time in the lower divisions and out of contract – the unnamed duo fit the bill perfectly.

It is the fulfilment of criteria Appleton has long set for the Blues’ goalkeeping spots next season.

Talks have been held, the names have been pencilled in, yet the wait goes on for them to be able to put pen to paper.

Crucially, though, Pompey’s manager believes he has the answer to the conundrum which has had so many fans scratching their heads.

He said: ‘There are priority areas all over the pitch for me in terms of recruitment.

‘It’s fair to say, however, I am well aware three goalkeepers have left this summer and we need to bring in replacements. That is absolutely crucial.

‘To be honest, I have two young keepers in mind to come here and I think I have got them.

‘I am not in a position to name them yet, though. Not that we can sign them anyway.

‘From my point of view, I want two young keepers on the books.

‘This is the direction I want this club to take and with that in mind decisions over other keepers were made this summer.

‘Of the pair, I want one who is likely to be a starter and will have a little bit more experience.

‘That is important, you have to start the season with one ahead of the other. Obviously they have to be someone who is out of contract and I want them to have played games in the lower divisions.

‘You have to be realistic and we are not in a position where we can do anything else at this moment.

‘There is no money to spend, I’ve got to look at free agents – but I want young ones.

‘Things are still on-going, I’ve spoken to players and agents about goalkeepers.

‘We just need the opportunity now to sign them both.’

Another option could be promising goalkeeper Daniel Nizic, who trained with the club last season.

The towering Australian could be regularly spotted warming-up on the pitch with coach John Keeley before matches.

Yet, being a triallist, he didn’t feature in either the first-team or Academy.

Irishman Gledhill was instead the regular in goal for Andy Awford’s Academy side through the campaign, although was released earlier this month.

He was one of just two Academy youngsters to be shown the door, with eight others offered first-year professional terms.

Of the first-team keepers, Henderson completed his £600,000 switch to West Ham last week.

The 24-year-old had already spent two months on an emergency loan at Upton Park.

Ashdown has also left Fratton Park after eight seasons and 123 appearances.

Now Appleton is keen for two new faces to arrive and fill those goalkeeping chasms.