Pompey manager’s frustration at absence of key man

Simon Ferry limps out of the Mansfield game. Picture: Joe Pepler
Simon Ferry limps out of the Mansfield game. Picture: Joe Pepler

Richie Barker has admitted Simon Ferry could be the answer to his central midfield problems.

But Pompey’s former skipper is still no closer to being pencilled in for his long-awaited comeback.

The ex-Swindon man is this week consulting another specialist in a bid to solve his ongoing back problem.

Despite initially returning to training last month, the injury continues to dog him.

In the meantime, Barker has employed a succession of midfield combinations in the centre of the park to find the best blend in a 4-4-2 system.

Toumani Diagouraga and Romain Padovani lined-up in the goalless draw against Burton, while Nicky Shorey, Thery Racon, Wes Fogden and Johnny Ertl have also been employed on occasions.

The Blues are still waiting for news on whether automatic choice Diagouraga can stay beyond his one-month loan spell, which finishes after this weekend.

And the absence of potential partner Ferry continues to frustrate Pompey’s manager.

Barker said: ‘We have not solved the two in the centre of midfield and I don’t think we will do until the summer.

‘I have said before, we are papering over the cracks.

‘We have not seen enough of Simon but I think he could be fine there.

‘A couple of times he did play in a two he did okay in it, so I think he could but we can’t count on him.

‘He did come back for a while and his back was a bit sore again so there was no point him putting himself through that if he wasn’t going to play. When I came in I played 4-3-3 for the first few home games after the first two defeats and took criticism for that.

‘But I did say we couldn’t play 4-4-2 because we didn’t have the players to play it.

‘I still don’t know if we have solved that either.

‘You need two very, very strong mobile midfielders who can play and you need two very good, very strong centre forwards who can do everything you want them to do.

‘If you haven’t got it, you can’t do it. Until we get where we need to get to then that’s the way we will have to keep shifting it.’

Ferry has not made a Pompey squad since hobbling out of the action against Mansfield on January 18.

It has now been 10 matches missed – and he is not presently in full training.

Barker added: ‘Simon is keeping himself as fit as he can do with what he has got at the moment but he’s not training with us.

‘Different people keep telling us different answers. We are trying to find different ways of skinning cats and are guided by what the specialist people say.

‘We keep being told by various people it’s this and this will solve it but it has not been the case.

‘You can write him off for the rest of the year and then come back pre-season and not have solved it, so I think we need to get to the bottom of it pretty quickly.

‘Otherwise he’ll come back in pre-season and if he can’t hit the ground running it will be tough.’