PAUL COOK has challenged his players: Prove you deserve to play for Pompey.
The Blues boss has thrown down the gauntlet to his squad to show they have the hunger to be worthy of a place in his squad.
The close of the emergency transfer window passed on Thursday with little in the way of last-minute action at Fratton Park.
James Dunne extended his loan stay at Dagenham & Redbridge, with Kal Naismith at Hartlepool until January.
That leaves Cook with 26 players to choose from – a number he previously stated he felt was too high.
The 48-year-old has now aired his concern that some players are happy to simply be associated with a club of Pompey’s status.
Sometimes here, you can get into a mode that you are at Portsmouth and play for Portsmouth. This is a big club.Paul Cook
Cook won’t stand for that –and has demanded his squad prove that’s not the case.
He said: ‘These are new lads to the club. We are trying to teach these lads to be better.
‘How do you become better? How do you train harder? How do you have more of an appetite for the game?
‘These are different lessons we are trying to teach.
‘I’m talking in general, but you’ve got to have more of an appetite for the game.
‘There’s a million different way to teach lads. Especially younger lads.
‘Sometimes here, you can get into a mode that you are at Portsmouth and play for Portsmouth. This is a big club.
‘You have to earn that right. We all have to earn that right.’
Cook underlined the door is not shut on either Dunne or Naismith because they are currently plying their trades away from Pompey.
He highlighted the case of his former Chesterfield defender, Sam Hird, as evidence that’s never the case under his management.
The Blues manger feels having players picking up as much playing time as possible is imperative, though.
‘We had Sam Hird at Chesterfield. He’s the perfect example. He got put on the transfer list and ended up as my captain,’ said Cook.
‘There is no such thing as being done at our club until you leave, in our opinion
‘I think that until you leave everyone has a glimmer of light. Even if it’s a small one.
‘The best way is to say “I’ll show you”.
‘We have Naismith and Dunne out with recall clauses. Those lads are doing smashing. They are playing with recalls in, so they come back match-fit if we need them.
‘My biggest frustration is players not playing.
‘Naismith will now be playing games. If he was here the likelihood is we wouldn’t see Ben Tollitt because he’s above him in the pecking order.
‘All of a sudden you can suffocate players by having too many.
‘Now in a blink of an eye we have Dunney playing well, Naismith playing games and Tollitt moving up.
‘Conor Chaplin comes in and all of sudden there is five or six playing with a smile on their faces.
‘I’d rather have it that way.’