Quality over quantity for Barker

Pompey striker Ryan Bird Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey striker Ryan Bird Picture: Joe Pepler

Richie Barker wants players who are capable of clocking up 50 games per season as he continues his Pompey rebuilding programme.

The Blues boss has already stated he believes his squad has become over inflated after bringing in six new players since the start of the January transfer window.

But he has now gone into detail on his vision for the future and admits he wants just 22 players in his ranks to play an entire campaign.

Pompey trimmed their numbers yesterday when Ryan Bird joined Cambridge United on an initial month’s loan, while Adam Webster rejoined Aldershot until the end of the season.

Barker, however, believes he still has players who are not challenging for selection and instead wants a core of a team that stays unchanged for long periods.

‘I like players who have got 46 games per season in them,’ said Barker.

‘I probably had eight players who played more than 40 games in a season at Crawley.

‘I think I had four who even played around 50 games.

‘You can build your team around reliable players if you have got eight reliable players.

‘If you train in the right way and you do the right things, I think you can do that. I believe we trained and did the right things.

‘The day that I left, we had used fewer players than anybody else in the Football League and we weren’t doing too badly.’

While many managers in the modern game want to rotate the team or rest players to keep them fresh, Barker has a more traditional view of picking what he believes is his best team and sticking with it.

But in contrast to Guy Whittingham, who effectively started with a blank canvas last summer, Barker admits it will take him some time to make adjustments to the squad and to release players he doesn’t rate.

He explained: ‘Two have gone out on loan but the squad will still be too big anyway.

‘The reality is that’s what we’ve got.

‘It took me 10 months to get to the squad size and the quality and quantity that I wanted at Crawley.

‘It probably took me six months at Bury and it could take me another 10 months again here.

‘Players get contracts and they are entitled to see those contracts through.

‘Sometimes it’s difficult to move players on, even if they are not part of your future plans.’

And the Pompey boss is clearly an advocate of quality over quantity.

‘I would say that a squad of 22 is the ideal number –no more than that,’ added Barker.

‘That would include all of the professionals, including the first-year professionals.

‘I worked with 19 at Crawley and that was probably too few at times.

‘But 22 would be about right – although it’s possible with maybe 21 or 20 if you have the right players.’