After a 2-1 victory against high-flyers Northampton at the start of December, the Christmas period looked to be going to plan. However, the Blues lost 3-2 to Leyton Orient on Boxing Day and were held to a 0-0 draw against 14th-placed Luton two days later.
Despite picking up a win on Saturday, it is clear that one or two reinforcements are necessary in order to (hopefully) take Paul Cook’s side over the line come May and win promotion to League One.
We’ve seen what the additions of Marc McNulty and Caolan Lavery have brought to the side, with nine goals between them since joining on loan at the start of November, so fans will be hoping for the same impact from any new arrivals this month.
The back four have been a solid element of what has been a rather satisfying start to the season, but problems are starting to creep in. Christian Burgess had been arguably the most impressive new signing at Fratton Park after joining from Peterborough in the summer. However, fans were left frustrated after he was clumsily brought down in the 84th minute against a very frustrated Hartlepool, resulting in his leg being put in a boot and a fair amount of time on the sidelines. Initially, this just seemed a minor blow, but after Adam Webster got sent off against Leyton Orient just before Christmas, Paul Cook was left with no other option except to call on central midfielder, Adam Barton, to fill the gap.
While the combination of him and on-loan defender Matt Clarke seemed to do the job against Luton, keeping a clean sheet, it would seem as though cover is still necessary. Although, the situation is a bit more complicated than it seems.
Burgess appears only to be out until mid-January, while Adam Webster has already served his ban and started alongside Clark in the weekend win over Crawley. Furthermore, with Jack Whatmough back in training after the cruciate injury he picked up back in March, his return seems just as imminent. But, with Clarke looking likely to miss the cup game against Ipswich, with it being against his parent club, Pompey could be back down to just one natural centre-back. Nevertheless, the Blues could suddenly jump from one centre-back to four within the space of a few weeks so they really don’t need a long-term solution to the problem.
In my opinion, a one-month loan would probably work best as it would give Paul Cook’s side enough options for the time being. The loan of Matt Clarke from Ipswich has worked perfectly this year and he has displayed plenty of maturity on the pitch. Therefore, bringing in a similar player from a similar club could well be worthwhile.
While fans have called for reinforcements in goal after some inconsistent performances from Brian Murphy, maintaining a solid back four should be a priority this transfer window. It could also be said that an additional right-back wouldn’t go amiss as there is no immediate replacement should Ben Davies get injured, but perhaps this is something that attention can be drawn to if or when a centre-back is brought in.