PAUL COOK insisted he will work with a streamlined Pompey squad for next season.
The new Blues boss has revealed he prefers to work with fewer players to create the right environment and to keep everyone involved.
We want to have a small, tight squad that are behind each otherPaul Cook
And rather than the 37 players that were used by Pompey over the course of the last campaign, Cook believes he could operate with a base of just 18 senior professionals as he opts for quality over quantity.
Cook said: ‘I haven’t got an exact figure in mind on how many players I want to bring in.
‘But I like working with a small squad.
‘Nowadays, it is common practice for people out of the team to sulk and become unfit through a lack of games.
‘We want to have a small, tight squad that are behind each other.
‘If we do need to go outside of that because of injuries, we can go into the loan market or recruit again.
‘Getting in quality, rather than a quantity of numbers, is important to me.
‘We’ve got a couple of younger lads around the club that we have been getting very good reports on.
‘These lads will hopefully all be around the first team so in terms of the first-team squad, we might be looking at 20 and that may go up to 24 with the younger lads.
‘But it may even be as low as 18 if those youngsters have a good pre-season.’
Even after this week’s recruitment of Kal Naismith, Pompey currently have just 15 contracted professionals on the staff – a number that could still be reduced as Cook assesses his options.
Craig Westcarr was transfer-listed and then loaned out within a matter of weeks during a previous spell working with Cook at Chesterfield.
The manager gave no assurances to any of the current players and also issued a stark warning to those players he has inherited.
‘While you are a contracted player for this club, you will be treated with the utmost respect,’ said Cook.
‘Craig Westcarr will be no different than any of the other contracted players here.
‘We’ve built our reputation by being fair with players.
‘But what’s important for the players that are here is that if they are given an opportunity, they take it because I guarantee they won’t be given many.
‘It’s important that the players report in the morning and give us everything they have got in training.
‘If players aren’t going to give us that in training, they will not be lucky enough to see a match day at this club.’
Cook is also keen to identify the right type of characters as he sets about his squad overhaul to turn Pompey into promotion challengers.
‘Our fans can relax safe in the knowledge that we will only sign players who desperately want to sign for this club,’ he said.
‘I won’t talk about who they are but we are working hard on a number of targets.’