Changing-man Barker would relish a settled Pompey

Richie Barker has been forced to regularly shuffle his pack since his arrival. Picture: Joe Pepler
Richie Barker has been forced to regularly shuffle his pack since his arrival. Picture: Joe Pepler

Richie Barker reflected on his ever-changing Pompey line-up and insisted: I’d love to field a settled side.

Nobody needs to preach to the Blues boss the potential benefits of naming an unchanged team.

As of yet, it is something which has eluded his starting line-ups during his two-and-a-half months at Fratton Park.

On average, Barker has made three alterations every match to his team – while on three occasions he has made five or more.

Last weekend at Exeter, Jed Wallace and Romain Padovani came out of his first team in favour of Wes Fogden and Thery Racon for what resulted in a heart-breaking 1-1 scoreline.

Of course, injuries to Simon Ferry, Andy Barcham and Danny East – after being in the side the previous fixture – have forced the Pompey boss’ hand on occasions.

As it is, Joe Devera is a doubt for AFC Wimbledon tomorrow with a knee problem, which could mean more changes are on the way.

Then there has been the need to weed out those not performing and instead introduce players Barker believes will be more effective, while formations have also altered.

It adds up to a lack of a settled team – and how the Blues manager would relish addressing that problem.

‘It’s not ideal having to keep changing the team but that’s what we have a squad for,’ said Barker.

‘I would prefer a settled one but, understandably, at this time of year people are going to pick up knocks and injuries.

‘We saw that with Joe last week and there is nothing you can do about that.

‘Injuries change the teams you are going to name.

‘You just have to try to deal with it as best as you can and juggle your squad.

‘Also, some players don’t deserve to keep their place, so you keep changing it.

‘When I came in I wanted to give every player a chance and have a look at them in matches, so there were a lot of changes in those first few weeks.

‘You only have to look at our back five to see it has been fairly settled and we have bore the fruits of that.

‘Defensively, we have tightened up and picked up clean sheets, which is the result of establishing partnerships and keeping familiarity. At Bury and Crawley I operated with smaller squads and smaller numbers but more quality – and the sides were settled more than not.

‘That is what I would like to do here, if at all possible.’

After taking charge of Pompey for the first time against Newport County, Barker made six changes for the trip to Bristol Rovers.

That wretched display prompted five alterations to the team which took on Dagenham & Redbridge – a match which heralded his first win.

There was just the one change against Northampton and then four for the New Year’s Day trip to Southend.

At Oxford, three debutants swelled it to five alterations.

And the draw against Mansfield saw fresh recruit Wes Fogden as the new face in the starting line-up.

Since then Barker has made two changes in each of the past four fixtures.