Toumani Diagouraga has been told: Show us your quality.
The 26-year-old arrived on loan from Brentford this week and Blues boss Richie Barker is keeping his cards close to his chest on whether he will throw him straight into a revamped midfield for a debut in tomorrow’s trip to Scunthorpe.
While the Frenchman has not started a competitive game since December 7 and last played on New Year’s Day, Barker is clearly keen to get him involved as quickly as possible to give his midfield a new dimension.
And there is little point in bringing in a new player on loan for a month if he is not going to play.
Barker said: ‘He is fit but is he match fit? We’ll find out.
‘He’s been around the squad for a while and I know he’s played a few development squad games.
‘He brings a knowledge of what it takes to play at the higher level, with his experience at Brentford.
‘He can get around the pitch and has a big, physical presence.
‘He had a number of League One clubs he could have gone to instead but we managed to get him here.
‘Hopefully, we can convince him that this is the place for him to be for a while and, hopefully, he’s hungry to play football for a month.
‘Having not played a lot of football recently, I’m sure he wants to get out and play.
‘He’s here for a month but we are all going into it with an open mind.
‘He wants to convince Brentford that he can play in League One.’
Pompey’s midfield has looked short of drive and energy at times in recent games and the former Peterborough man is seen as a box-to-box midfielder who can add to the attacking options.
‘He gives us something a little different to what we already have,’ added Barker.
‘Thery (Racon) and Nicky (Shorey) tend to play a little deeper, Romain (Padovani) goes forward a bit more but he’s still learning the English game and Simon Ferry and Johnny Ertl have been injured.
‘It’s another position where we have now got a few options to choose from.
‘It will be frustrating for people at times but it’s all about having competition for places.
‘We’ve also got a lot of games coming up so people will get their opportunity.’
Barker also revealed he is steering clear of any pronounciation struggles.
The Blues boss said: ‘Apparently his nickname at previous clubs was Dave.
‘I asked him, though, and he said to just call him T. I wasn’t going to argue.’
– STEVE WILSON