RICHIE BARKER warned his Pompey troops they are playing for their futures over the campaign’s finale.
And the Blues boss has challenged his men to find the consistency they’ve been woefully lacking this season to earn themselves a part in his long-term plans.
Barker’s men go to high-flying Scunthorpe tomorrow looking for their first back-to-back league wins this term.
A place away from the League Two relegation fight is the immediate target for Pompey.
But the players also know a part in Barker’s rebuilding programme at Fratton Park is also up for grabs.
‘There’s a third of the season to go,’ said Barker.
‘When you look at it like that, there’s a lot of things which can be decided in a third of a season.
‘People will get moves and work their way in and out of the team.
‘Players will be named player of the year, top scorer and these things will decide where we finish.
‘We don’t talk about individual targets, it’s about where we want to get together.
‘We know where we want to get to and we know how to get there.
‘But that is the easy part. Doing it is the hardest part.’
Pompey have a tough test on their hands at Glanford Park as they meet a Scunthorpe side looking to bounce back into League One at the first attempt.
The Iron have shown what a strong run can do, with a 15-game unbeaten spell propelling then into the promotion hunt.
It’s the kind of form which has been missing from the Blues’ season and a big factor in their struggles.
But Barker saw further development in the team’s mental strength as they repelled AFC Wimbledon’s late onslaught last weekend to pick up a much-needed three points.
Now the challenge is to deliver two league wins on the bounce for the first time.
Barker said: ‘I’m sure the players who have been here all season have had that stat thrown at them numerous times.
‘The successful teams are the ones who win three games in a week or five games in a month.
‘For us to be successful, that is what we have to do.
‘The consistency part, doing it week-in, week-out is tough.
‘The English season is over 50 games.
‘To play all those games is mentally and physically tough. That’s what you should be judged over but to compete over that amount of time is tough going.
‘Our mentality is to do that week-in, week-out.
‘But the organisation and the mental side is probably about 20 per cent.
‘But it was the organisation and mentality which won the game last Saturday.
‘It was an element of technique, but the last 20 minutes was about mentality and organisation when the ball goes dead. That’s a big part it.
‘That’s when the concentration, organisation and mental desire comes in.’