Pompey's problem pitch turfed out

Portsmouth are spending £100,000 (€146,000) to lay a new pitch ahead of the FA Cup fourth-round tie against European champions Liverpool.

Portsmouth are spending £100,000 (€146,000) to lay a new pitch ahead of the FA Cup fourth-round tie against European champions Liverpool.

Club officials were left with little alternative ahead of the January 29 clash after the boggy pitch left Portsmouth’s more cultured players frustrated during Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Everton.

The new surface is likely to be used for only eight Premiership matches this season, before it is dug up in the summer and rotated 90 degrees as part of the major redevelopment which will also eventually bring Pompey three new stands.

Speaking after the Everton game, where the result left Portsmouth five points away from safety, manager Harry Redknapp said: “I don’t know what has happened to our pitch but it doesn’t help the way we want to play and pass the ball.

“I’m sure our new signings Sean Davis, Pedro Mendes and Noe Pamarot would never have played on a Premiership pitch like that.”

Redknapp has already brought in five new faces since returning from Southampton last month.

He is now being linked with Charlton’s out-of-favour goalkeeper Dean Kiely and admits: “I like Dean. He is a good keeper and a proper professional, but at the moment other areas of the squad need strengthening.”

Redknapp has already lost new £4.1m (€6m) record buy Benjani Mwaruwari to the African Nations Cup, along with fellow striker Lomana LuaLua.

They could both be missing for five matches if their countries – Zimbabwe and DR Congo – reach the latter stages.

Despite the investment in the team from new co-owner Alexandre Gaydamak, Redknapp does not want to overload his squad and admits he may sacrifice left-back Matt Taylor.

The manager said: “I don’t want to lose him. He’s a good player and if we can keep him, we will.

“But it depends. If we have to sacrifice a player to get two in who balance the squad, we might have to do that. We might have to lose him to make us stronger all round. But I want to keep him.

“There is a player abroad I like who plays wide on the left side of midfield, with a good left-foot. There’s a possibility of getting him on loan.”

That would almost certainly open the door for Taylor, 24, who has been linked with a move to Fulham.

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