Barker ready to change his wide boys

Jed Wallace Picture: Joe Pepler
Jed Wallace Picture: Joe Pepler

RICHIE BARKER is preparing to tinker with his options out wide over the remainder of the season.

The Pompey boss paid tribute to the men vying for the two places on the flanks in his starting XI.

Barker admitted it’s a nip-and-tuck battle between his quartet of options.

Jed Wallace and Ricky Holmes got the nod against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

That saw Wes Fogden drop to the bench from the draw at Exeter.

And with Andy Barcham returning to fitness, Pompey are well stocked in their choices for both sides of midfield.

Barker believes there is enough variety in the players’ attributes for him to choose the men best suited to hurt each opponent.

He said: ‘It’s good competition for places in wide areas.

‘They are all a great group to work with when I work with them as a four.

‘They are all similar with their own quirky positives, which make them a little different.

‘It may be that we pick one who is relevant to a particular game.’

Barker is happy with the four men he can turn to in wide areas.

But he has noted he doesn’t possess a natural left-footer among that quartet.

That is something he would ideally like to remedy moving forward.

The Pompey boss explained he doesn’t see wingers as players who operate specifically on the left or right flanks.

And hearing a player say they can only do one job is enough to drive him to distraction.

Barker said: ‘I like wide players who can play on both sides. When they say someone is a left or right-winger it drives me nuts.

‘All of them at the moment are right footed.

‘I’m not always a fan of that. But if you are a winger or wide player you should be able to play on both sides.’

Barker has previously stated his amusement at the fascination with wide players and tactics in football, as well as the game’s analysis.

In recent seasons, that has seen the trend of ‘inverted wingers’ come into play.

That would see managers go with a right-footed player on the left wing and left-footed winger on the right.

Barker explained he doesn’t put too much emphasis on following those trends.

He did acknowledge, however, Jed Wallace has nearly benefited from being played on the left, and being able to cut in, on a number of occasions this season.

Barker added: ‘I laugh at all that talk. But Jed’s hit the bar and post coming inside and having shots.

‘If we’d seen those go in maybe we’d all be saying something different.’