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By ESPN Staff

Portsmouth sign Benfica's Fernandes on loan

Portsmouth have signed Manuel Fernandes on loan from Benfica and the midfielder could eventually become the club's record signing at £7million if he proves his fitness at Fratton Park.

Pompey have the option of signing the 20-year-old but it is understood there is an escape clause which will allow them to terminate the move if the highly-rated Portuguese youngster fails to recover from a groin injury.

Fernandes has been in the care of Pompey's medical team for the past month, having the injury assessed after he failed two physical examinations connected with the transfer.

Although sources in Portugal put Fernandes' value at nearer £10million, Pompey are believed to have negotiated a lower figure based on the player's progress with them. The fee would still easily beat the £4.4million they paid French club Auxerre for striker Benjani Mwaruwari in January.

Portsmouth have finally decided to press ahead with the Fernandes deal - with the insurance of a get-out clause - to beat Thursday night's transfer deadline.

Fernandes, who has two full caps for Portugal, is not expected to be match-fit for two months, but if he comes through that period all predictions point to him making an impact in manager Harry Redknapp's squad, which is currently composed of just 15 fit outfield players.

Pompey's chief executive Peter Storrie, who confirmed Manchester City's 34-year-old former England striker Andy Cole also a player the club are considering signing, said: 'We are completing the Manuel Fernandes deal and we are looking for two or three more players on top of that before the deadline.'

Storrie told the Portsmouth News: 'Fernandes is some player. He'll go to the top of the tree. Andy Cole is fully fit now and one of several options we are looking at up front. We need a fifth striker.'

Redknapp said: 'We're working hard. There are a few names who have come up who you would take.

'You'd take them because you know they'd come in and appreciate the opportunity of playing for us and enjoy working with me and Tony, (Adams, assistant manager) getting something out of them.

'We haven't had any luck getting anybody in lately, though. We have taken some players on free transfers (Kanu, Sol Campbell, David Thompson) and they have done great.'

Pompey are believed to have also inquired about Sporting Lisbon and Cameroon left-winger Rudolphe Douala, and they continue to be linked with a move for Fenerbahce's Ghana midfielder Stephen Appiah, whom Redknapp has watched twice.

But Storrie has denied a Portsmouth interest in former Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu or Lyon's France international forward Sidney Govou.

So far Glen Johnson, David Thompson, Sol Campbell, goalkeeper David James and Kanu are Pompey's new summer recruits, plus Ognjen Koroman who has returned on a season's loan.

But Pompey fear Johnson, who damaged an ankle in training on Sunday before the 4-0 win at Middlesbrough which took Redknapp's team to second in the Premiership, will join striker Lomana LuaLua on the long-term injured list.

Midfielder Pedro Mendes, however, hopes to get the go-ahead from a neurological specialist tomorrow to return to training after Ben Thatcher's shocking challenge at Manchester City.