Boss open-minded on Pompey players’ futures

Richie Barker. Picture: Joe Pepler
Richie Barker. Picture: Joe Pepler
Nathan Thompson has served his four-match suspension Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss weighs up role for returning duo

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Richie Barker has told his Pompey squad: You have five games to decide your own futures.

The new Blues boss is undergoing a vital period of assessing his players to form his January recruitment plans and the priority areas to strengthen the side.

And while he has started that process and has begun to form opinions on who will make the grade, he admits he can still be swayed.

Barker said: ‘I haven’t written anyone off yet.

‘It’s strange because one day you think “I’m not sure about him” then the next day you don’t think that way.

‘That’s why these decisions can’t be made overnight.

‘You owe it to everyone to make the right decisions so you don’t do that from one or two training sessions or one game.

‘If you just come in and after three or four days go “I thought he wasn’t good enough so I’m going to move him on” then you are going to make mistakes.

‘Sometimes people can change your ideas.

‘You come in with a negative idea of someone and then think “he’s not quite what I thought”.

‘But on the flip side, it can go the other way as well.

‘You come in with an idea but you have to be open-minded.’

While Barker knew the majority of the players in the Pompey squad before his arrival, he revealed it is different to actually working with them.

He said: ‘I could have written half a dozen sentences about each player’s strengths and weaknesses because it’s my job as a manager to know about other people’s players.

‘What you don’t know is what they are like on a day-to-day basis.

‘What is their attitude like in training? What are they like at taking information on board?

‘What are they like at adding to what we’re trying to create in the dressing room?

‘You don’t know that until you work with them.

‘You need to be working with them to know what their mentality is like, what their desire is like and what their attitude in training is like on a daily basis.

‘We don’t just judge them on Saturdays.

‘It’s about what they bring to the football club and until you work with them, you can’t make that decision.’

Some of the Blues players – Shaun Cooper, Trevor Carson, Thery Racon and Marcos Painter – are on short-term deals, which expire next month.

And the former Crawley manager has identified this as a crucial period – not only for results but also for his squad plans.

Barker said: ‘Fortunately, I have five games in a short period of time.

‘I suppose the negative is we could do with some time to work on things on the training ground.

‘But the positive is that I will certainly be in a better place to recognise where we need to go with it in three weeks’ time.’