Portsmouth are closing in on the first of three major signings with Sol Campbell undergoing a medical ahead of a proposed move to Fratton Park.
The England international has had attractive offers from clubs in Turkey and France since he left Arsenal last month but it appears manager Harry Redknapp is on the verge of clinching the 31-year-old’s signature.
As well as Campbell, Redknapp is looking to sign the defender’s international colleague David James as well as Peruvian left back Juan Vargas and is also hoping to entice New Zealand centre-half Ryan Nelsen from Blackburn.
But the south coast club are sweating on the fitness of striker Lomana LuaLua after the DR Congo striker was carried off with an ankle injury in Friday’s goalless friendly at Oxford United.
LuaLua was helped off the pitch by Pompey’s medical staff with suspected ankle ligament damage after challenging Oxford keeper Billy Turley – a worry for Redknapp with the opener against Blackburn now less than two weeks away.
The former West Ham boss has made no progress in bids for Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe and Fenerbahce’s former Arsenal marksman Nicolas Anelka despite the influx of cash from Pompey’s new owner Sacha Gaydamak and is left with just Svetoslav Todorov and Benjani Mwaruwari as his only real front-line options.
Benjani, the club’s record £4.4m (€6.5m) signing from French team Auxerre last January, missed the Oxford match with a thigh injury.
Vargas, with Argentinian club Colom de Santa, arrived last week for a medical and was in the stand at Oxford ahead of his proposed £1.6m (€2.4m) move to Fratton Park.
And James, the 36-year-old former Watford, Liverpool, Aston Villa and West Ham goalkeeper, was left out of both Manchester City’s games on their pre-season tour of Shanghai despite travelling with the rest of the squad to China.
Redknapp has admitted he would like to bring the former England keeper to Fratton Park if a deal could be arranged at around £2m (€3m).
And City manager Stuart Pearce, who preferred to play reserve keeper Nicky Weaver and the inexperienced Joe Hart in China, admitted: “I think they (Portsmouth) have been in contact.”
Pompey also have a bid in for Nelsen at Blackburn and although Rovers manager Mark Hughes has issued a “hands off” warning he is believed to be monitoring the progress of Chelsea’s German defender Robert Huth as a possible replacement.
Portsmouth, meanwhile are still waiting to discover the full extent of LuaLua’s injury.
The 25-year-old, who has just signed a new three-year contract after his future was at Fratton Park was plunged into doubt by his refusal of a previous offer, missed the final five games of last season after he damaged an ankle performing his trademark somersault goal celebration against Arsenal.
Pompey physio Gary Sadler said the swelling on LuaLua’s ankle following the Oxford match was enough to suggest the injury was a big concern.
Sadler told the Portsmouth News: “Lua has turned his ankle and has a swelling on it. He’s in for treatment but we won’t know how bad it is for a few days.
“The swelling suggests a fair bit of damage, but it’s too early to tell.”
Assistant manager Tony Adams admitted he did not know the extent of the injury but losing the striker would be a blow with the current squad in need of strengthening.
Adams, the former Arsenal and England defender recruited by Redknapp last month, said: “There were a lot of doctors and other people running around him when he went off.
“We’re not going to know the exact level of the injury straight away.
“These things take a day or two. We will have a look at him over the weekend and see if it is serious or not.
“I think it is known we are after players and that includes strikers.
Injuries happen in football like that so it is important we get some people in.”
So far, though, Redknapp has made just two signings since the end of last season – right back Glen Johnson on a season’s loan from Chelsea and midfielder David Thompson on a free transfer after the former Liverpool and Blackburn player was released by Wigan.