Boss lifts lid on defender’s Pompey transformation

Joe Devera. Picture: Joe Pepler
Joe Devera. Picture: Joe Pepler

Richie Barker believes Joe Devera is finally starting to produce the Pompey performances he is capable of.

And the Blues boss has put the transformation down to a change of coaching approach on the training ground.

Devera has been one of the disappointments for Blues followers this season after failing to reach the high standards produced at former clubs Swindon and Barnet.

His impact has also been hampered by being asked to play across the back four rather than focus on his favoured role in the centre of defence.

But the 26-year-old has been restored to centre-half in the last two games, coinciding with two clean sheets and Devera’s best two Pompey displays so far.

For Barker, it’s a notable resurgence which reflects a player reaping the rewards from work recently implemented on the training pitch.

He said: ‘I believe Joe has benefited from the work we have done in training.

‘He needed some help and guidance and I think has enjoyed what he has done in training and feels more confident within himself now.

‘These players need coaching and helping and I am not sure how much there has been.

‘If you work on things you get your rewards in the end.

‘You also need a bit of luck but if you work on things and help people then they will improve as players and if they improve then we can go in the right direction.

‘With Joe we have spent time on him and worked with him and tried to help him.

‘Confidence issues are always quite prominent in League Two because players can be mentally fragile.

‘So if you work on things in training with players in general they will have more confidence in their ability, which means you will end up with a better player.

‘Joe did extremely well last year so I dare say he will have disappointed a few people but hopefully now we can pull him through.

‘He is one of the ones who has thrived on it, takes information on board and wants to work hard.’

Just 12 of Devera’s 24 appearances this season have been in his preferred position at centre-half.

His other outings have come at right-back (seven times) and left-back (five times).

It is as a central defender, though, where Barker believes Devera is most effective.

The Blues boss added; ‘Joe has finished the Northampton game at right-back and then left-back the other day because of injuries to other players.

‘People like that are worth their weight in gold if you have a smallish squad.

‘He prefers it in the centre and I think can eventually be more effective there.

‘So we will work on him and work on the back four to improve things.

‘All these lads needed help. You don’t have the worst defensive record in the league and not need help.’