KARL Oyston has revealed that Pool have seen off a cheeky attempt by Championship rivals Portsmouth to snatch Ian Evatt.
The Seasiders centre-half was the subject of a bid believed to be in the region of £900,000.
But Pompey’s efforts to grab the 29-year-old were met with firm resistance by the Pool chairman.
Oyston said: “I’m delighted to be able to give the manager what he was asking me for, which is stability and trying to keep as many of the players together as we possibly could, including heading off a bid from Portsmouth for Ian Evatt.”
“We’ve said all along that stability is very important and that’s why we are so pleased we persuaded Matt Gilks and Stephen Crainey to stay.
“We’ve effectively got the same defence we’ve had for the last couple of years, apart from Seamus Coleman who was here towards the end of the promotion season.”
The Gazette understands Pool have slapped a £3m price tag on Evatt, who played superbly throughout the Premier League campaign.
That hefty asking price is designed to warn off any admirers and ensure Evatt remains an integral part of the side.
Indeed, he is tied to Pool for the next three seasons after agreeing a contract extension last week.
Evatt, though, caught the eye of several managers during his season as a Premier League ever-present for Pool and is rumoured to be a target for Bolton should they lose Gary Cahill to Arsenal.
The England centre-half has a £17m buy-out clause in his contract which Arsenal aren’t willing to meet, though the Gunners remain in negotiations about a player-plus-cash deal which could involve young midfielder Henri Lansbury.
It is testament to how well Evatt has played that he is the centre of such speculation.
He joined from QPR five years ago, when Pool were fighting relegation to League Two, and played a huge part in the club’s rise to the top.
Evatt, who made more clearances than any other Premier League player last season, is not only a key figure on the pitch but in the dressing room too.
“It’s fine living here and being happy but you’re taking a gamble going over there and you could be unhappy. I’m going to be a father soon and I told Stephen (Baxter) I’d find it very hard to live on what they offered.
“I’ve another year and a half left on my contract and I’m happy here.”
Owens and Dallas have caught the eye of several English clubs and will have a major opportunity to showcase their talents when Crusaders take on Fulham in the second qualifying round of the Europa League tomorrow.
Owens added: “If you score a goal in a big game like this you never know who could be watching you. I’m sure there will be a lot of scouts there.”
Pool won’t be too upset or surprised by Owens’ comments. Chairman Karl Oyston has a policy of going in with a low first offer and trying to reach a compromise.
Whether Pool return with an improved bid for the pair remains to be seen.