Barker eager to reward Painter with new deal

Richie Barker is ready to offer rejuvenated Marcos Painter a Pompey deal for the remainder of the season.

The left-back has been a key component of a tightened defence which has kept four clean sheets in their last seven outings.

Marcos Painter. Picture: Joe Pepler

Marcos Painter. Picture: Joe Pepler

Just as important, Painter has now started the last eight matches – appearing to banish concerns over his fitness after an injury-hampered start to his Fratton Park career.

That has convinced Barker to sign up the 27-year-old on an extended contract, a situation he is looking to push through imminently.

And for the Blues boss, it is just reward for the former Brighton defender who has been outstanding during the past month.

He said: ‘We will be having a conversation, no doubt in the next few days, about where we are going to go.

‘His contract is one of the things we need to tidy up, I think.

‘I felt he was doing okay before – when I gave him a one-month deal – but I do like hungry players and people who have something to prove.

‘I don’t think he needed that motivation but it is always nice when you have got it.

‘They all had to win me over, after that Bristol Rovers game not too many were staying so they have all had to impress me.

‘Some have, some haven’t, some the jury are still out but it shows you if you knuckle down, get on with it and do the right things you get your rewards and Marcos is one of the ones that has definitely done that.

‘I thought he was excellent at Oxford, I thought at Mansfield he looked secure, on Saturday he weighed in with an assist for the second goal and against Wycombe he stuck to his task extremely well.

‘So we are now seeing a fitter, more athletic Marcos who can get up and down the pitch, he has got good knowledge and is part of that back four as a unit that has definitely improved.

‘He probably just needed some guidance, some help and he has bought into it, done the right things and is getting his rewards for it.’

Between October and November, Painter failed to make an appearance in 12 Pompey matches as he slipped out of the first-team frame.

That absence was influenced by injury followed by falling out of favour with then-manager Guy Whittingham and he was left to watch from the bench. Painter has now started eight of Barker’s nine matches in charge following the loan departure of Dan Potts, cementing his spot as a regular.

And the Blues boss has stressed the importance of not letting the left-back’s escalating standards slip.

He added: ‘Marcos needs to make sure he doesn’t rest on his laurels. He needs to be fighting for his place on a regular basis.

‘He asks questions, does the right things, wants to learn and has a great attitude when doing defending in training.

‘You don’t play the level he has played at and become a bad player overnight.

‘A big part of that is we have done more attacking over the last couple of weeks than we have done for a while.

‘The Mansfield game was half-an-hour’s worth of attacking at the end so he has not shirked that responsibility, he has joined in and covered the ground.’