Pompey flew out to Spain for their pre-season tour of Spain today, leaving at home all eight senior players – Greg Halford, Liam Lawrence, Tal Ben-Haim, Luke Varney, David Norris, Dave Kitson, Erik Huseklepp and Kanu – although Kanu is yet to return for training and we believe he has cancelled his contract with Pompey.
With all the senior players absent, the squad flying out is made up of academy players, the young stars who have signed professional contracts and are likely to be part of the first team (Ashley Harris, Adam Webster, Sam Magri etc.) and a large number of trialists who have met up with the club with a possible move to Pompey in the works.
Here is a lowdown of the trialists:
Luke Rodgers - The former Notts County and Shrewbury Town striker became a free agent this summer after his contract at New York Red Bulls was cancelled due to Rodgers being unable to get a visa, whilst he joined Norwegian club Lillestrøm, but the two parties decided to part ways during the summer break.
With over 300 appearances in the Football League and over 100 goals to his name, the 30-year-old Englishman, who is a former strike-partner of Thierry Henry, is a proven goalscorer and could front Pompey’s strike-force next season if the trial goes well.
Although Rodgers has a slightly dodgy past, with a criminal record for hitting a 16-year-old girl with a firework, causing a disturbance in Nottingham city centre after a night out with his Notts County team-mates, and assaulting Hartlepool defender Chris Westwood, Appleton has already proved last season that it doesn’t bother him, signing Kelvin Etuhu who had just come out of prison for assault, and he’s willing to give all players a chance to prove themselves – the right attitude in my opinion.
Izale McLeod - If things go right, McLeod could be partnering Rodgers in Pompey’s strike-force. With 279 Football League appearances to his name and 95 goals, McLeod is another experienced striker and was also named Football League Two Player of the Year during the 2006/07 season and named in the PFA Team of the Year for 2006/07 and 2011/12.
Most recently the 27-year-old was plying his trade with Barnet, scoring 33 goals in 77 appearances during his two year spell, but was not offered a new contract when it expired this summer – making him another free transfer.
McLeod started his career at Derby County. He was then loaned out to Sheffield United before joining MK Dons on a free transfer where he scored 54 goals in 116 appearances during a three year spell before being sold to Charlton for £1.1m in 2010. The Birmingham-born striker failed to impress at Charlton, making a number of appearances from the bench before being loaned out to Colchester, Millwall and Peterborough, before joining Barnet in August 2010 on a free transfer.
Appleton has been tracking McLeod for a while, and providing we get Football League approval, Appleton could finally get his man if he impresses!
Simon Gillett - The 26-year-old midfielder may be a bit more known to Pompey fans for a number of reasons. Firstly he started his career coming through the Southampton academy before breaking in to their first team, only making a handful of appearances.
Gillett was loaned out to a number of clubs whilst at our South-Cost rivals, sent out to Walsall, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Blackpool (again), Yeovil Town and then Doncaster Rovers, before making a permanent move to Doncaster.
Following a free transfer to the Keepmoat Stadium, Gillett went on to make 68 appearances in a Doncaster shirt, scoring eight goals from midfield, including an equaliser against Pompey back in October. The Blues went on to win the game 3-1! He may not be the best a man can get (pardon the Gillette pun) but he’s certainly the best Appleton can get with the limited resources.
Lloyd Sam - The 27-year-old winger started his career coming through the ranks at Charlton, making 121 league appearances and scoring six goals, whilst also being loaned out to Leyton Orient, Sheffield Wednesday and Southend United, before being moving on to his home-town club Leeds United.
Sam joined Leeds in July 2010 on a free transfer, and Pompey fans may remember him making a brief appearance against the Blues as an 81st minute substitute during a 3-3 draw at Elland Road back in December 2010. Sam’s Leeds stay was restricted to a number of appearances from the bench after suffering a number of injury set-backs and was then sent out on-loan to Notts County for the final three months of his contract last season – scoring an impressive five goals in 10 appearances.
Although he was born-and-bred in England and made an appearance for the England u-20s, Sam has shown a desire to play for the Ghana national side – the country of his birth parents. If Appleton can keep him fit and clear of injury, Sam could prove to be a quality signing – and Pompey could do with an out-and-out winger!
Brian Howard - Another former Southampton academy product, Howard spent four years at the club but failed to make a single first team appearance before joining Swindon Town in July 2003. The 29-year-old midfielder has made nearly 300 Football League appearances throughout his career, bagging 40 goals in the process.
Following two successful seasons at Swindon Town, making 72 league appearances, Howard joined Barnsley where he scored 28 goals in 134 appearances before being loaned out to Sheffield United, the side who he would later be sold to. Howard then joined Reading in 2009 before he joined Millwall in September on an emergency loan.
Many Pompey fans may remember Howard featuring against Pompey. In fact, Howard faced Pompey twice last season and for two different teams – his first game and his last game of the 2011/12 season. Howard was an 83rd minute substitute in Pompey’s 1-0 win over Reading at the start of the season, whilst he was also in the starting line-up (before being taken off after 70-minutes) for Millwall in their jammy 1-0 win over Pompey on Boxing Day.
Mustapha Dumbuya - First of all, what a name! Only Pompey could sign a player who’s name sounds like Must-Have-A Dumb-Buyer. The 24-year-old is a relatively unknown in the football world. Dumbuya was a non-league player until recently, playing for the likes of Wingate & Finchley and Maidenhead United, whilst it was rumoured he had trials at Gillingham, Hereford and Fulham.
Dumbuya is a right-back but sometimes pushes on to a wing-back/winger role, having made only 38 appearances in the Football League. Dumbuya is still relatively young and has a bright future.
He was called up to the Sierra Leone national squad for the African Cup of Nations 2013 qualifiers but didn’t play due a mix-up with the tickets. Dumbuya has played twice against Pompey for Doncaster; During the 2010/11 season he played the full 90-minutes during Doncaster’s 3-2 win at Fratton Park, whilst he also featured in the epic 4-3 thriller at the Keepmoat Stadium at the end of the season – coming on as a late substitute.
Jon Harley - The 32-year-old left-back could be described as some-what of a journeyman. Harley has made more moves than you can count on your fingers, starting his career at Premier League giants Chelsea.
Coming through the ranks at Stamford bridge, Harley spent five years at Chelsea, making 30 appearances whilst also spending a loan-spell at MK Dons, before joining Fulham for £3.5m in August 2001. He seemed to flop a bit at Fulham after such a big move, making only 32 appearances in all competitions, before being loaned out to Sheffield United on two separate occasions along with a loan-spell at West Ham.
Harley then joined Sheff Utd on a free transfer and had a successful season at Bramall Lane, and was subsequently bought by Burnley for £75,000. The left-sided player has since gone on to play for Watford, Notts County and Rotherham before he has found himself training with Pompey for the last week at their Eastleigh training ground and now flying out for the pre-season tour of Spain/Gibraltar.
He was also an FA Cup winner at Chelsea in 2000.
Simon Eastwood - The 6ft2in goalkeeper is the only goalkeeper at Portsmouth Football Club at the moment. Eastwood, who trained with the Blues last week, has made only a few appearances in the lower leagues to date.
The 23-year-old, who was released by Halifax Town in May, having joined from Oxford United, has caught the eye of Pompey boss Michael Appleton, whilst many are still wondering who Eastwood is. The Luton-born stopper started his career at Huddersfield Town, before being loaned out to Woking and Bradford.
He made one appearance for both England u-18s and England u-19s, keeping a clean sheet for the latter against Belarus back in August 2007.
Pompey are also expected to welcome another goalkeeper on trial, but Portsmouth News’ Neil Allen confirmed the arrival of the second goalkeeper had been delayed due to personal reasons.
Goalkeeper Darjan Curanovic, who was set to join the Blues on their tour, has been told he is no longer required in Spain, whilst stopper Laurie Walker has returned to his club Kettering after spending the week training at Eastleigh with Pompey.