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EXCLUSIVE: Portsmouth emerge as serious Dundee United rivals for Kevin Nisbet

Kevin Nisbet.
Kevin Nisbet.

Portsmouth have emerged as serious contenders to sign Dunfermline’s star striker Kevin Nisbet.

Courier Sport can reveal that the English League One side made the biggest January bid for the 23-year-old – going higher than both United and Hibs – and are keeping tabs on developments north of the border.

Tannadice boss Robbie Neilson has confirmed that the Tangerines are still keen on the former Raith Rovers frontman but it is understood they have yet to make an official summer offer.

Hibs aren’t in a position to snap up free agent Drey Wright after his St Johnstone contract came to an end, let alone start thinking about recruiting a player with a price tag like Nisbet, who has a year left on his East End Park deal.

As a result, the Easter Road club are unlikely to be in the race this time around.

Dunfermline chairman Ross McArthur has insisted that their prized asset will not be sold on the cheap.

The fact that Portsmouth may come back with another bid is strengthening that stance.

Pompey take on Oxford over two legs at the start of next month, with the winners facing either Wycombe or Fleetwood for a place in the Championship on July 13.

By that point the south coast club will have a better picture of their transfer budget, and no business is expected to be done by them until the play-offs are over.

Clearly, if they go up there will be greater funds available to manager Kenny Jackett but he may decide that Nisbet isn’t ready for England’s second tier.

And if they stay in League One, it is doubtful the Fratton Park side will be able to get close to the bid they put into Dunfermline a few months ago given the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier in the week McArthur pointed out that the Pars, who won’t be playing football until October at the earliest, are willing to play the waiting game.

He said: “Unless we get fair value for him, he’ll just stay.

“I’ve no doubt Kevin will go on to bigger and better things, but there’s interest down south as well and if clubs in Scotland think they might come in and get him for a cheap price because of coronavirus or whatever else, we’re not in a position where we need to sell.

“So, unless we got a price where we thought it was at a level where we couldn’t turn it down then nothing will happen.”

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