Pompey not writing off Moutaouakil

Yassin Moutaouakil. Plymouth v Pompey. Home Park. Saturday, October 12, 2013. Picture: Joe Pepler
Yassin Moutaouakil. Plymouth v Pompey. Home Park. Saturday, October 12, 2013. Picture: Joe Pepler

Richie Barker insists he has not written off Yassin Moutaouakil.

The Frenchman lost his place under Guy Whittingham having began Pompey’s campaign as his favoured right-back.

Similarly, he has started only one of Barker’s five matches in charge of the Blues.

Admittedly a virus ruled Moutaouakil out of the fixtures against Northampton and Southend, although he is now back in training.

Nonetheless, he had already been overtaken by firstly Shaun Cooper and then the impressive Danny East in that role.

The loan arrival of Daniel Alfei from Swansea also throws doubt on the former French-21 international’s involvement.

Alfei can expect to be given his Blues debut at Oxford on Saturday, coming in at right-back for the injured East.

Pompey fans have mixed views on Moutaouakil who, on occasions, has provided assists when coming forward but also been at fault for goals when defending.

Barker, though, will continue to scrutinize the 27-year-old’s talent as he assesses the squad he has inherited.

Pompey’s manager said: ‘I see Yassin as the same as everybody else playing for the football club and he has a contract until the end of the season.

‘He actually played in my first game in charge and then came on as substitute in the following match.

‘But Danny had a chance and took it by doing well and it is a shame he is now injured.

‘Yassin is training with us again after illness and available for the squad, so gives us that competition for places.

‘There are a few who can play at right-back at the moment and we’ll keep looking at it as the season goes on and take it from there.’

Moutaouakil ended last season strongly after arriving from Hayes & Yeading, earning a 12-month deal with a year’s option in the summer.

He has gone on to make 16 appearances during the current campaign, although has started just two of the last 12 games.

While Moutaouakil battles for a spot, John Sullivan was earlier this week allowed to leave Fratton Park for the rest of the season.

It has left Barker satisfied with his goalkeeping ranks following the loan departure of the summer signing from Charlton.

Sullivan had not featured for the Blues since the abject 4-2 defeat at York in September, when two glaring errors from the keeper proved so costly.

It signalled the arrival of Trevor Carson on loan from Bury – leaving the club overburdened in that particular department.

Phil Smith had a one-month loan spell at Dartford in November, allowing Sullivan to return to the match-day squad as the substitute stopper.

Now the 25-year-old has left for Skrill Premier high-fliers Cambridge, where he takes over from Chris Maxwell, who had been recalled by parent club Fleetwood.

It will allow Sullivan to sample first-team football again before returning to Pompey in the summer for the final year of his contract.

Barker added: ‘We had three senior goalkeepers and cannot afford them so ended up with John leaving us. There was an enquiry from Cambridge and he was interested so we let him go out.

‘That’s it now, I don’t need to bring in any other keeper, Phil Smith is a good person to have around as well as Trevor.’