Boss lauds firing hitman

Jake Jervis celebrates his goal against Exeter Picture: Joe Pepler
Jake Jervis celebrates his goal against Exeter Picture: Joe Pepler
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RICHIE BARKER thanked Jake Jervis for invigorating his Pompey front line.

But the Blues boss is keeping a close eye on the in-form hitman after a frenetic return to action.

Jervis has lived up to his billing as an exciting addition to Barker’s ranks, since finally completing a move to Fratton Park last month.

Three goals in four starts underline his eye for goal, as he’s struck up a promising partnership with fellow new-boy Ryan Taylor.

That has arrived after being out of the game since last May, due to a contract wrangle with Turkish club Elazigspor.

Barker praised Jervis and Taylor for adding energy to the Pompey forward line.

But, with Patrick Agyemang waiting in the wings, he is wary of working the 22-year-old too hard.

Barker said: ‘David Connolly’s last goal was August and Patrick has scored once since August.

‘We couldn’t continue in that vein.

‘I felt some fresh legs and a bit of youthful enthusiasm would do us good.

‘I feel fairly justified in the goals the pair have scored.

‘Jake hasn’t played football for a long time, so to just come in and play three games in a week was a bit much.

‘I don’t think people realise how much he hasn’t played.

‘It’s not been like he’s been in the reserves. He’s literally not played.

‘He’s worked hard and had the hardest period he’s had for months, to be fair to him.

‘But he’s got his head down and gets on with it.

‘People will hit a lull, so it’s up to us to recognise that and see when he needs a break.’

Agyemang has had to sit on the bench for the past four games, with Jervis and Taylor preferred.

But Barker praised the 33-year-old, who been used as a substitute in all of those games.

He is comfortable turning to the man who remains popular with the Fratton faithful, if he feels his attacking options need shaking up against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

Barker said: ‘Patrick has lost his place and the other two have taken the chances, to be fair to them. So Patrick has to work hard to get back in.

‘But his attitude has been spot on. When he has come on a couple of times he’s done exactly what we wanted him to do.

‘You don’t get moaning from Pat – he gets on with it.

‘I think everyone has been left out at some point, so if you don’t do your job right there will be someone to take your place.

‘I’ve said from the start we need competition for places, and I’d say there is almost competition for every place now.

‘No-one has a God-given right to go and play for this team, week-in, week-out.

‘We’ve obviously not done well enough, because of where we are.

‘So no-one has justified playing every week because we wouldn’t be in the bottom five or six.’