Barker denies striker row

Pompey striker David Connolly Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey striker David Connolly Picture: Joe Pepler
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Richie Barker insists there was no fall out between himself and David Connolly, after allowing the striker to leave Pompey on transfer deadline day.

The 36-year-old joined League Two rivals Oxford United on loan until the end of the season yesterday – the only piece of transfer business at Fratton Park.

There were fears midfielder Jed Wallace would be a transfer target for the likes of Peterborough or Wolves.

But a bid failed to materialise, with only former Republic of Ireland international Connolly attracting interest.

Connolly, who joined the club last January, scored seven goals in 17 appearances last season and has netted five times in 20 games this term.

But he has slipped down the pecking order in recent weeks following the January arrivals of Ryan Taylor and Jake Jervis and amid rumours Barker and the front man did not see eye to eye.

The Blues boss denied the move was down to a clash of personalities and instead pointed to the competition for places and Connolly’s recent injury record.

‘There was no fall out. I don’t fall out with anybody,’ said Barker.

‘Oxford rang me on Thursday afternoon and asked what my thoughts were.

‘I told them that if he wanted to play more football, then fine. He’s not played a great deal recently and it all seemed to click into place.

‘It was something David wanted to do, so fair enough.

‘David said he would like to play a bit more football. The 
two boys who have come in have scored four goals in three games.

‘I think David has started four games since September.

‘He hadn’t played that many games before I came in and he hasn’t played that many games for me.

‘He’s seen the lads have come in and scored goals, so I think it speaks for itself.’

With Ryan Bird on loan at Cambridge, the decision to allow Connolly to depart leaves Barker with just three recognised strikers in Taylor, Jervis and Patrick Agyemang.

And the Blues boss admitted he is now looking to recruit another forward when the loan window re-opens.

Barker said: ‘It might leave us a little bit short up front.

‘But the loan window re-opens next week so I will probably explore the options and look to bring in a fresh face when the time comes.’

Connolly, who was interviewed for the Blues manager’s job before Barker’s appointment in December, has another year left on his contract but it looks unlikely he will now return to the club.

He showed his pedigree with a match-turning substitute appearance in the recent 1-1 draw with Mansfield but there are suggestions he has become an increasingly divisive figure in the camp in recent times.

Barker added: ‘Hopefully, he can score some goals for Oxford against the teams in the bottom half and do us a favour. We wish him well.’