Pompey’s first pre-season training session began yesterday at their Eastleigh base, despite many expecting numbers to be short and familiar faces a thing of the past, many of last year’s squad remained. It is testament to the surrounding uncertainty around Pompey that their training base is likely to change before long, but still Appleton gathered everyone he could to put them through their early paces.
Two notable absentees were Aaron Mokoena and Nwankwo Kanu, the former Bafana Bafana skipper expected to complete his move to Bidvest Wits shortly whilst there was no reason given for Kanu’s absence – AWOL according to manager Michael Appleton.
Pompey also welcomed 4 players on trial. Goalkeepers Simon Eastwood and Laurie Walker. Eastwood a former England under-18 stopper, whilst Walker most recently turned out for Kettering Town under then caretaker boss Ashley Westwood – a future Pompey back room staff member. Former Doncaster defender Mustapha Dumbaya also turned up to the Wellington Sports Centre, with former Fulham and Chelsea player Jon Harley. Harley has previous experience for England at under 16 and 21 levels, while his last 5 years have been played at Football League level with 257 appearances and 5 goals since 2005.
Pompey also welcomed their development squad of Jed Wallace, Andy Higgins, Dan Thompson, Eliot Wheeler, Dan Butler, Alex Grant and George Colson.
In addition to them, youngsters Adam Webster, Sam Magri and Ashley Harris are expected to make the step up to join the first team picture, Harris in particular having been rewarded for his recent breakthrough with a fresh two-year deal over the summer.
Michael Appleton was in fine spirits, despite admitting his starting XI for next weeks friendly at Havant & Waterlooville would likely be a complete different side that lines up for the first game of the season at home to Paul Groves’ Cherries.
The headcount is likely to vary over the next few weeks, faces coming and going. Pompey fans are left in the peculiar position of wanting to see the star players to leave to ease the wage bill and ensure the League One season begins as a fresh start.