Barker backs ex-England man’s midfield quality

Nicky Shorey. Picture: Joe Pepler
Nicky Shorey. Picture: Joe Pepler

Richie Barker believes Nicky Shorey possesses the attributes to continue in the heart of Pompey’s midfield.

The former England left-back is carving out a Blues career as a central midfielder following his January arrival.

Shorey has started the last six matches in the role and continues to impress Barker with his composure on the ball and passing ability.

It has meant the likes of Simon Ferry, Johnny Ertl, Romain Padovani and Thery Racon have all been vying to line up alongside the 32-year-old as his midfield partner.

It’s a period which has seen the Blues collect one win, four draws and one defeat in their battle to climb away from the relegation zone.

And Barker is adamant Shorey deserves to keep his midfield place on merit.

He said: ‘Technically Nicky sees things and does things other people can’t do.

‘He’s very cool on the ball, the players know they can rap the ball into him and the chances are he is going to keep it for us – and he also has an eye for a pass.

‘He turns up and plays every game like he’s almost playing five-a-side in the park and I think he did that when he played for England.

‘That’s the kind of person he is. He just wants to get on the ball and play.

‘That’s the mark of a good player. People watch the Premier League and say “how much time do they have?”.

‘They don’t really, it’s because they are good players.

‘I think Nicky can dictate. The players jokingly often say about him panicking on the ball which I haven’t seen him do yet and he doesn’t do it in training either.

‘At times, if he played with a heart-rate monitor on, his heart-rate wouldn’t change I don’t think.

‘He can pull the strings a little bit from there because he sees things other people don’t see.’

Shorey also played in midfield at times during his spell at Bristol City – before his release at the turn of the year.

Of course, he primarily made his reputation as a left-back at Reading, winning two England caps in 2007.

At present Marcos Painter has that position firmly in his grasp with some cultured displays of late.

Regardless, Barker has been pleased with Shorey’s contribution in a more advanced position.

And he remains in the frame to keep his spot against AFC Wimbledon this weekend.

The Blues boss, though, is unsure whether the ex-Villa man will continue in midfield for the rest of the League Two campaign.

He added: ‘I don’t know if Nicky will keep remaining there.

‘I would have to say Marcos is keeping his place on merit, to be fair to him.

‘And Nicky is keeping his place on merit.

‘If Nicky doesn’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean he will automatically be switched to left-back if Marcos is doing what he has been doing.’