Boss says whole side deserve praise for clean sheet haul
Pompey’s defence have received plenty of plaudits in recent weeks.
They have gone from shipping goals at an alarming rate to keeping three clean sheets in the last four games.
Victory over Dagenham & Redbridge and draws against Northampton and Oxford have been built on solid foundations.
But Barker believes it is the whole side that deserve credit for Pompey’s stinginess.
The Blues boss said: “Defending isn’t just about a back four and the goalkeeper – it’s about everybody.
“And there have been improvements with everyone in terms of taking information on board.
“The defence have had some good accolades over the past few weeks and rightly so after three clean sheets.
“But I’m sure they’d tell you that there have been less chances created and that’s based around the fact that the people in front of them are working a lot harder.
“We had a very short-term goal, which was to stop conceding so many goals and then a slightly-longer-short-term goal, which is to get to 50 points as soon as possible.
“I’ve seen enough of an improvement to suggest that in six weeks time it won’t be just a single point between us and the bottom two.”
Pompey will look to climb away from danger this weekend when they host Mansfield – a side Barker knows plenty about.
He said: “I was captain there for two-and-a-half years and I had a really good time with them. I didn’t want to leave, but the club needed money to pay some bills.
“So it’s a football club I know extremely well and have followed for a number of years.
“One of their strengths is their strength. Without being disrespectful, they’re a big side who are physical, hard-working and very disciplined in the way they play.
“The run they went on at the end of last season – winning 16 of their last 18 games – means they came into this campaign with a winning mentality.”
Wes Fogden is likely to make his debut against the Stags after arriving at Fratton Park earlier in the week.
Barker said: “He brings energy and enthusiasm – and he wanted to come and play for Pompey. He ticked all the boxes.”
Pompey will be without Danny East (ankle) against Mansfield, but Andy Barcham (thigh) and Ricky Holmes (concussion) have both returned to training.
Pompey are 11/10 favourites to beat Mansfield with Sky Bet. Sign up to an account at www.skybet.com/pompey for great offers and to earn money for the club.