Mokoena wins work permit but faces Barnsley battle

Joe Hancott in action for Pompey Reserves against Southend. Picture: Colin Farmery

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Aaron Mokoena has finally won his work permit.

But the Pompey skipper faces a battle to return to the side against Barnsley at on Saturday.

Mokoena was in South Africa at the start of last week for their international friendly with Kenya.

The 30-year-old was also attempting to renew his visa to allow him to continue playing football in England.

That wait ended on Tuesday, by which time he had already missed the Blues’ victory over Doncaster.

With Pompey not training yesterday, he is now scheduled to return to their Eastleigh base today.

That will ensure he is part of preparations for Saturday’s Fratton Park visit of Mark Robins’ side.

But, following the Keepmoat Stadium success of the Greg Halford and Ricardo Rocha partnership in their first outing together, he will not be automatically recalled to the defence.

The duo impressed in last weekend’s 2-0 win, keeping Pompey’s first clean sheet in 11 matches in the process.

Steve Cotterill will be unwilling to change the fledgling partnership which debuted so well.

It means Mokoena’s only hope of featuring against Barnsley is in midfield in place of Jonathan Hogg.

The on-loan battler is serving a one-match ban following his sending off against Doncaster.

However, the arrival of David Cotterill from Swansea creates more options for the Blues boss as he looks to cope without Hogg.

The winger can play on the left or right flank, a flexibility which could see a reshuffle to accommodate him against Barnsley.

Mokoena’s sole appearance in midfield under Cotterill came against Ipswich in September. That match finished goalless – one of just four Pompey shut outs this season.