Portsmouth take out loan after wages protest

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The Independent Football

England's goalkeeper David James led a delegation of Portsmouth players to recover unpaid November wages as manager Avram Grant tried his best to keep their focus on today's vital Premier League encounter at home to relegation rivals Burnley.

James and senior players Linvoy Primus, Herman Hreidarsson and Michael Brown demanded a meeting with Portsmouth's finance director Tanya Robins after the club were unable to pay their £1.8m wage bill for the second time in three months.

Portsmouth last night claimed the wages had been paid in full after controversial owner Ali Al Faraj negotiated a fresh loan from Hong Kong businessman Balram Chainrai.

Meanwhile Grant was forced to dismiss suggestions the players were ready to boycott this afternoon's game as a result of the latest financial problem to engulf Fratton Park.

Grant, who was not been paid the monthly portion of his £950,000 a year salary on time, said: "The players were not happy, but we have an important game against Burnley and there was never any question they would not play. They are professionals and they want to win. No sportsman wants to be beaten and they are proud.

"Burnley is a big game because we are bottom of the league and this is a big chance for us to pick up some points. We always need to find something to motivate the players and that is not easy but all that is important is what happens on the pitch.

"What has happened in the past week has made things more difficult but it has been difficult since the start of the season and since my first day at the club. I am here to concentrate on the football side of things and all I care about is getting off the bottom of the table as soon as possible."

Al Faraj borrowed £15m from Chainrai's investment company only last month to repay debts to rival Premier League clubs after being made subject of a transfer embargo. That embargo remains in place but Grant says he is confident he will have money to spend in January.