Ricky Holmes admitted Pompey’s players were stung by Richie Barker’s recent public criticism as he insisted: I want to prove him wrong.
The Blues were the subject of some scathing words from their manager in the wake of the 5-1 drubbing at Scunthorpe last weekend, as he questioned their desire and mental strength.
But while Barker then spoke of his pride in the response of his troops in the 1-0 success over Accrington on Tuesday night, hard-working winger Holmes has made it clear he is keen to continue to prove the doubters wrong – including his own manager.
‘When the manager comes out and says that about you, it does hurt,’ said Holmes.
‘But, as he also said, how could he come out and back us when we lose 5-1?
‘We’ve all read what was said and the gaffer has not really backed us, but it was a disappointing result.
‘So we need to keep proving to ourselves and to everyone else because we have come under a lot of scrutiny over the past few days.
‘You want to prove to him (Barker) and to yourself.
‘There are doubters out there and we need to prove some of those doubters wrong.’
The former Barnet man was only thrown on at half-time, with Pompey already 3-0 down, at Glanford Park last Saturday. But he disagrees with the manager that Pompey were outfought.
Holmes said: ‘We are at the bottom and they are at the top.
‘We got outplayed. I don’t think we got outfought.
‘As far as I can see, everyone goes out there and puts 100 per cent in every game – that is my work ethic.
‘So I think that was a bit harsh on us but nobody wants to lose 5-1.
‘But that’s why it was so important to get the win on Tuesday.
‘To come back from that Scunthorpe game, win 1-0 and get a clean sheet – to me, that is a sign of a team with character.’
Holmes also warned that the current seven-point gap between Pompey and the relegation places can easily disappear.
‘I was in a relegation battle last season and every team was picking up points out of nowhere,’ he added.
‘So we need to keep doing that ourselves, especially against the teams down there around us.
‘We’ve done that quite well over the past month so it’s onwards and upwards at Chesterfield on Monday.’