Barker won over by Racon Christmas displays

Pompey midfielder Thery Racon
Pompey midfielder Thery Racon
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Richie Barker has vowed to keep Thery Racon motivated as he seeks to bring the very best out of the midfielder.

Pompey last week took up an option to retain the Frenchman until the end of the season.

Racon had previously been fighting for his Fratton future – one of four players whose existing deals expired this month, with Barker eager to make changes.

As it was, the Blues boss revealed the former Millwall man’s cultured displays over the Christmas period convinced him to retain his services.

He has followed Trevor Carson in having his stay extended until the summer, with Marcos Painter and Shaun Cooper still waiting to learn their fates.

Now the challenge is to ensure Racon maintains his form as Pompey seek an improved second half of the campaign to retain their League Two status.

Barker said: ‘Thery played in the last three games and I felt showed enough in that particular time to extend his deal.

‘He has knuckled down and got on with it, to be fair to him. He has played like he is playing for his future – which a lot of them actually are.

‘I think he has responded well. He was one of those motivated, with his contract running out. Now we need to make sure he continues to be motivated.

‘Thery has kept his place recently and what I like is the way he has dealt with the ball and handled it in tight areas, which is mainly the way we want to play in the end.

‘There was also the manner in which he dug in against Southend and, as a group, that was something I was not sure about in the players’ games.

‘He’s had a couple of different roles, playing deep one game and then more attacking the next, but of everyone he has been the most comfortable with those instructions.

‘I’m looking for him now to continue playing a part in the side as we aim to keep on picking up points.’

Racon initially joined Pompey on loan from Millwall last season, making 16 successive appearances.

He struck up an impressive central-midfield understanding with Johnny Ertl, prompting former boss Guy Whittingham to attempt to make it a permanent deal after being made a free agent.

Terms couldn’t be agreed financially and Racon instead returned to France, where he was unable find a club.

The Blues did manage to capture him in October, though, initially on a month-long deal, as Whittingham attempted to revamp his side following defeat to York.

The 29-year-old’s second spell, however, has been largely hampered by injury, restricting his availability.

But he has now started four of Barker’s five matches in charge, latterly in an advanced midfield two in the injury absence of Simon Ferry.

Racon has made 10 appearances so far this season.