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Barker: Players On Trial

19 December 2013

Boss wants to see improvements over festive period

Richie Barker has challenged his players to prove that they deserve to play for Pompey.

The Blues have failed to win any of their last eight matches, picking up just two points.

That run includes a 2-0 defeat to Newport last Saturday – Barker’s first game in the Fratton dug-out.

And with Christmas bringing five matches in the space of just two weeks, the Pompey boss wants to see an improvement.

Barker said: “It was a tough team to pick last week – there were a few people on the bench that could conceivably come straight into the side.

“Some people impressed and some didn’t do themselves any favours. It’s a bit of a trial period and some need to recognise that it’s a fantastic opportunity to play here.

“We need to send the message out that if you want to stay at a fantastic football club then make sure you do the right things.

“There’s a really busy period coming up and there won’t be any days off over Christmas – although we might reassess that after the weekend.

“There’s normally a few days that you can fit in, but we’ve planned the schedule over the last few days and there isn’t a lot of spare time.

“The players have got a lot of work to do, but every day that goes by is hopefully another step in the right direction.”

Next up for Pompey is a visit to the Memorial Stadium to face a Bristol Rovers side sitting just one place above the League Two drop zone.

The Pirates were in FA Cup action during the week, although their clash with Crawley was abandoned after 74 minutes because of a waterlogged pitch.

Barker said: “Having watched that game I know they can play well in puddles!

“That match was never going to finish, so I didn’t learn a lot from it and stopped making notes after half an hour.

“But I saw them a few weeks ago because I knew Crawley would be playing the winners of them against York.

“They’re very hard-working and organised, with a mixture of youth and experience. It will obviously be a tough match away from home.

“It’s a game between probably two of the biggest clubs in this division – people have said for a long while that when Bristol Rovers get things right the place could be rocking.

“I’m sure John Ward will soon get it right there and they’ll start working their way back up the table.”

Pompey are 7/4 with Sky Bet to beat Bristol Rovers. Sign up and deposit at www.skybet.com/pompey for great offers and to earn money for the club. 

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