Barker challenges ‘unplayable’ asset

Andy Barcham. Picture: Joe Pepler
Andy Barcham. Picture: Joe Pepler
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RICHIE BARKER believes Pompey will see a revitalised Andy Barcham over the season’s finale.

And the Blues boss has challenged the winger to find his ‘unplayable’ early-campaign form which had defences running for cover.

Barcham is now back in the fray after five weeks on the sidelines with a thigh injury.

The 27-year-old confessed to his manager that problem arrived out of a desperation to impress him after his arrival in December.

Barcham started in the win at Wycombe last month and has made four sub appearances either side of that win.

Now Barker is calling on the former Spurs trainee to show what he is capable of over the final 15 games of the campaign.

He said: ‘Andy was open to me when I spoke to him and said he wasn’t fit enough.

‘That led to his injury. He felt he should have been braver and said something.

‘He said he did it for the right reasons and he’d wanted to show me he could play.

‘But that rest has done him good and I think now you’ll see a new Andy Barcham.

‘I’ve seen some of the early games and spoken to people who said he was virtually unplayable at times.

‘So I’ve challenged him to get back to it.

‘He was carrying an injury which ended up going in the Bristol Rovers game.

‘But then he came back in and was excellent at Wycombe.

‘After five weeks out, playing two games in four days was a little bit too much for him.

‘So I didn’t want him to play the game after that against Torquay.

‘But hopefully he’s 100-per-cent fit now.

‘He’s quick, powerful and probably more experienced than the others.

‘If we can keep him fit, and hopefully we will now we’ve got him back, we’ll have him back on all cylinders.’

Barcham’s thigh problem means he’s had to be content with less playing time than Barker’s other options out wide since he succeeded Guy Whittingham.

But the Pompey manager stated he knows all about the ability and direct running he brings to the table.

Barker was aware of the winger from the two years he spent at this weekend’s opponents Scunthorpe.

He has indicated he is prepared to tinker with his wide players over the remainder of the campaign, as he prepares his team to take on the high-flying outfit.

Barker underlined it’s a nip-and-tuck battle between Barcham, Ricky Holmes, Jed Wallace and Wes Fogden for the two starting spots.

He said: ‘He is someone I know really well.

‘I know Alan Knill who had him at Scunthorpe, so I was well aware of him.

‘All of the wide players can be match-winners on their day and Andy is another one of those.

‘Between the four wide players there’s not a lot in it.’