Grant looks set for Portsmouth exit

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The Independent Football

Portsmouth are stepping up efforts to give their squad a "firm base" next season, but manager Avram Grant looks set for a switch to West Ham.

The financially stricken club are preparing for life in the Coca-Cola Championship, as they aim to come out of administration which saw them docked nine points by the Premier League.

Administrator Andrew Andronikou appears resigned to Grant's departure.

The 55-year-old wanted assurances over future stability under new ownership, and the Hammers now appear to be free to step up their pursuit of the Israeli, whose stature rose after guiding Pompey against the odds to the FA Cup final.

Whoever is in charge at Fratton Park next season will be taking over a much-changed squad, with several high earners set to leave along with those at the end of their loan deals like Aruna Dindane, who could now join Bolton on a £2.5million permanent deal from Lens.

Coaches Paul Groves, Ian Woan and Dave Coles, rather than Grant, have been looking to shape the playing staff.

Defender Hermann Hreidarsson, who missed the end of the season with an Achilles injury, and England keeper David James are those understood to have been offered new contracts already, while Pompey are also keen to retain Ricardo Rocha as well as promising youngsters Lenny Sowah, Joel Ward and Marlon Pack.

"Over the next few days we will make public who is going to be released," Andronikou said in the Portsmouth News.

"There are half a dozen at the club we would have been looking to let go anyway, regardless of administration.

"One of those is [Angelos] Basinas, who has not been a regular this season and it makes sense for him to leave.

"There are others we want to keep, though, and we have spoken to Hermann about a new contract.

"We held talks on Friday ahead of him going on holiday yesterday and he definitely wants to stay.

"We need people like him at this football club next year.

"He has that tremendous passion and desire, as well as caring about the club deeply.

"Rocha is another we are looking at speaking to.

"We will also be offering contracts to Ward and Pack, who represent the future of this club and are highly regarded. Another promising youngster is Sowah, who has one year left and is going to be offered an extension.

"Rest assured, we are working hard to give this squad a firm base for next season."

Andronikou maintained there was no hidden agenda behind whom the club would be looking to retain.

"The coaching staff are advising us on who should remain at Fratton Park. They have full control and it is down to them," he said.

"After all, they are the experts and have been given full autonomy to shape the club's squad for next season."

Portsmouth, meanwhile, could be ready to make a formal application to the Football Association for a UEFA club license in an attempt to secure a place in next season's Europa League, which they would have been entitled to as runners-up against double winners Chelsea in the FA Cup final.