Vocal Chorley’s credentials speak volumes to Pompey boss

Ben Chorley
Ben Chorley
Jamal Lowe. Picture: Joe Pepler

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The reasons for signing Ben Chorley spoke loud and clear to Richie Barker.

At last the vocal presence he craved has been added to a squad long perceived as lacking a voice on the field of battle.

A powerful central defender and highly experienced in the lower leagues with almost 450 appearances, the 31-year-old ticks many a box for the Blues.

Yet, crucially, Chorley possesses natural leadership qualities Pompey’s manager believes can considerably enhance his team.

Formerly club captain at MK Dons and Leyton Orient, he was named skipper on fleeting occasions during an injury-hit 14-match spell at last club Stevenage.

Johnny Ertl, Joe Devera, Simon Ferry, David Connolly and, for periods in games, Yassin Moutaouakil and Patrick Agyemang have all captained the Blues this season.

Now Barker has Chorley at his disposal to lead his team. Although, the ex-Arsenal trainee must first break into the side.

‘Ben has experience and I think he is a leader who will be a vocal person in the club, dressing room and certainly on the pitch as well,’ said Barker.

‘Everybody is aware we have not got too many vocal leaders and that is something I thought we had to address.

‘When looking at players, characters on the pitch is something you have to consider, as well as their ability and age.

‘You ask what you are going to get out of them on a number of levels.

‘It’s something I feel is important. You need a voice on the pitch to help with organisation, you need somebody to help people when things aren’t going so well.

‘A leader like Ben might perhaps spot something going on on the pitch and get instructions out probably before I can. It’s that added voice.

‘We’ve been lacking that and, for me, a leader at the club is very important.’

A red card picked up with Stevenage rules out Chorley from being available at Morecambe this weekend.

Regardless, he has been training with the Blues since Monday as he looks to force his way into a defence which has improved in recent weeks.

Sonny Bradley has rediscovered his form, and the transformation of Joe Devera under Barker has been truly remarkable.

Bondz N’Gala and Jack Whatmough are also providing competition, while Adam Webster has returned from a loan spell at Aldershot.

Chorley has endured an injury-hit past 12 months with a double hernia operation and calf and thigh problems restricting his availability for Stevenage. But from December he proved his match fitness with six starts in just over a month before a red card at Oldham in, ultimately, his final match for the club.

And as a footballer as well as leader, Barker is delighted to have captured the former Orient skipper’s signature on an 18-month deal.

‘Ben only just became available,’ added Barker.

‘But he is somebody I have been aware of for a while in League One.

‘To call him as a no-nonsense defender is a bit of an injustice, to be fair. There is more to him than that.

‘You don’t get too many of them nowadays but Ben can actually play a little bit.

‘He certainly takes pride in keeping the ball out of the net.

‘And we are looking for him to play off the level he has played at in League One.’