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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 19, 2010

Pompey offer key players new contracts

Portsmouth have confirmed new contracts have been offered to England goalkeeper David James, defenders Hermann Hreidarsson and Ricardo Rocha as well as veteran forward Nwankwo Kanu.

The Fratton Park club - £138 million in debt - are preparing for life in the Championship and hope to come out of administration, which saw them docked nine points by the Premier League, for the start of the new campaign.

Administrator Andrew Andronikou yesterday revealed the club hoped to retain some of their first-team squad to give Pompey a "firm base'' on which to build.

While it remains to be seen whether manager Avram Grant, who is a target for West Ham, will be in charge next season, the south coast club hope today's news we provide a positive start going forwards.

James will turn 40 in the summer, and has yet to confirm his plans for after the World Cup, while Hreidarsson, 35, missed the end of the season and the FA Cup final at Wembley with an Achilles injury.

Rocha, the 31-year-old former Portugal international, and Kanu, 33, are seen as key to giving Pompey some much-needed experience next season. Promising youngsters Lenny Sowah, Joel Ward and Marlon Pack will also be retained, while Anthony Vanden Borre could return if a deal can be agreed with Genoa.

However, many of the on-loan players, like Jamie O'Hara and Bolton target Aruna Dindane, will return to their parent clubs, and defender Steve Finnan is among those players released on a free transfer.

"Preparations for Pompey's 2010/11 season are already under way as the football club looks to build a strong squad capable of challenging for the Championship title," a statement on the club's official website said.

"The football club can confirm it has offered new contracts to influential first-team FA Cup heroes David James, Kanu, Hermann Hreidarsson and Ricardo Rocha.

"It's hoped the popular quartet will bring a wealth of experience and strength to the Blues' side as they seek to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

"A number of Pompey's rising stars have also been approached with new deals to keep them at Fratton Park. Lennard Sowah, Matt Ritchie and Joel Ward have all been offered contracts, following their impressive breakthroughs at the end of the season.

"They are joined by fellow youngsters Marlon Pack and Tom Kilbey, along with reserve keeper Jon Stewart. Fratton favourite Linvoy Primus has also been offered a position at the club, following his retirement from football.

"And Pompey's coaching staff have identified a number of players in different positions that they would like to bring into the squad, with work ongoing in this area.

"Loan stars Jamie O'Hara (Tottenham), Hassan Yebda (Benfica), Aruna Dindane (Lens) and Frederic Piquionne (Lyon) all rejoin their parent clubs.

"Anthony Vanden Borre will also return to Serie A side Genoa, but Pompey are working on a new loan deal that will hopefully allow the defender to be come back to Fratton Park for a further season. Angelos Basinas, Jamie Ashdown, Steve Finnan and OJ Koroma have all been released.

"Portsmouth FC would like to thank the departing players for their tremendous service to the club during their time on the south coast.''

Andronikou, meanwhile, hopes the Creditors' Voluntary Arrangement will soon be approved, enabling Portsmouth to come out of administration and so avoid another points sanction, this time from the Football League - who could yet decide to continue to enforce the club's ban on registering new players.

Pompey legend Steve Claridge, however, continues to fear for the future of the club, who as yet have no new owner in place.

"There is still a threat to the whole future of the club,'' Claridge said. "They were a judge's decision away from liquidation and they are not out of the woods yet.

"If they don't sort it out soon the situation could never, never be resolved. There is still an awful lot to be played out and it is a worrying time to be a Portsmouth fan.''

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