Pompey seeking to reduce goalkeeping ranks

Pompey keeper Phil Smith Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey keeper Phil Smith Picture: Joe Pepler

THE BLUES are targeting a reduction in their goalkeeping pool as Richie Barker attempts to revamp his playing squad.

The futures of both John Sullivan and Phil Smith are under scrutiny, with Trevor Carson Pompey’s undisputed number one.

Carson’s previously uncertain position was clarified on New Year’s Eve when he was presented with a deal until the end of the campaign.

Attention has now turned to Sullivan and Smith, with goalkeeping coach and assistant manager Anthony Williams conceding three keepers on the books of a League Two side is too many.

Sullivan joined Pompey on a two-year deal from Charlton in the summer, while Smith’s contract expires at the end of the season.

Ideally, one of the duo would be loaned out for the remainder of the campaign, freeing up part of Barker’s budget as he seeks to recruit his own players.

Alternatively, but extremely unlikely, the club could push for a departure by mutual consent and reach a settlement to cancel the contract of the player concerned.

Regardless, Pompey are clearly top heavy on goalkeepers at present.

And Williams admitted it was something the club are looking to address during the current January transfer window.

‘I suppose, ultimately, you can’t carry three goalkeepers in League Two,’ said Williams.

‘That is something you definitely can’t do, so we will see how we go with it.

‘They (Sullivan and Smith) both work well together and there is a good, honest goalkeeping group but we will see how that progresses.

‘They push each other along. It has been difficult this period because the ones that haven’t played have gone to the gym – and there are four or five that haven’t played, including two goalkeepers.

‘We will see what we do about that.’

Smith returned from a loan spell at Dartford last month, where he made three appearances.

In his absence, Sullivan has served as Carson’s back-up and has been on the bench for the past nine Pompey matches.

However, Carson – who was taken to Bury from Sunderland while both manager Richie Barker and Williams were at Gigg Lane – remains first choice.

Williams added: ‘Trevor is a good keeper. I think the fans have taken to him, from what I can gather, because he has made quite a few decent saves.

‘It’s probably a difficult position to play in terms of being in a team that isn’t that settled and are conceding goals as well. It’s not the nicest place to be.

‘He’s okay, he’s mentally tough, he’s got a lot about him – a bit of presence – and will do okay.

‘He’s 6ft 1in and slight but not as small as you think.

‘He’s probably the same size as Shay Given and has got a great leap on him. He’s an athlete.’