Harris will get Pompey chance

Ashley Harris comes on. Picture: Joe Pepler

Ashley Harris comes on. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey Academy defender Matt Casey Picture: Neil Marshall

Kelly praise for Pompey Academy response

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Ashley Harris has been told: You will get your chance.

The 20-year-old homegrown forward was handed his first Pompey first-team action of the season when he replaced Ricky Holmes as a substitute just 20 minutes into the 2-1 defeat at Southend.

The Purbrook youngster, who has not featured for the Blues since the final day of last season, showed some good touches before tiring in the second half as the Roots Hall pitch cut up under the heavy rain.

And while Barker replaced him with seven minutes remaining, he explained that it was not down to his performance and believes Harris needs his belief to be restored.

Barker said: ‘I thought Ash did okay at times. He was fairly creative.

‘But you can’t expect young kids who haven’t played for months to come in and make a difference straight away.

‘He has got something but he needs a bit of belief and for people to believe in him.

‘He probably needs a bit of continuity and a bit of a run.

‘When Ricky had to come off, we needed a similar kind of player to come on.

‘I know that Ash is a threat in the hole.

‘He is back in the fold and will be given a chance.’

While Harris has seen his opportunities limited under previous boss Guy Whittingham and failed to make an impact in loan spells at Hawks and Chelmsford, he remains a popular player among the fans.

But he is out of contract in the summer and must make an impression.

Barker said: ‘With all due respect to Ash, it was a needs must situation.

‘He admitted himself he was very tired towards the end, so that’s why I took him back off again.

‘For your first game in a long time, you don’t want to conditions like that.’

Barker also explained his decision to take Romain Padovani out of the side.

The Blues boss said: ‘Romain was left out as a breather because of the amount of football he has played in the past week and had not played any at all before that.

‘Bringing him on after 20 minutes would have defeated the object so that’s why we went with Ash.’

– STEVE WILSON

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