County provide first test for new Pompey boss

NEWPORT County AFC will face a fired-up Portsmouth side on Saturday as the hosts look to impress new manager Richie Barker, writes Andrew Penman.

Pompey have confirmed Barker as their new manager and Steve Coppell as director of football and the pair’s first match in charge will be against County at Fratton Park on Saturday.

Barker, aged 38, has agreed a rolling contract to take over at the south coast strugglers less than two weeks after he was sacked by League One Crawley Town.

He replaces Guy Whittingham, who was axed by Pompey two days earlier following a winless run of seven matches which left them 18th in League Two.

Barker said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for me. I’m very excited to be at this club with its great history.

“Everyone knows how passionate the people of Portsmouth are about their football club.”

Former Crystal Palace and Brighton boss Coppell, aged 58, worked in a similar role with Barker at Crawley.

He said: “It’s a new challenge for me and I'm very excited. Richie asked if I’d like to be involved and I jumped at the opportunity.”

Barker will be hoping for better luck than the last time he faced County, in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in October, when he saw his Crawley side squander a 2-0 lead as the Exiles fought back to win 3-2.

Pompey were also beaten 3-0 at Rodney Parade in the following round of the JPT.

Barker will have a quick decision to make over the future of defender Dan Potts this week.

The left-back’s initial month-long loan spell from West Ham ends after Saturday’s League Two clash with County.

But, with Dan Butler currently sidelined by injury during his Aldershot loan spell, Marcos Painter is the only other natural left-back in the squad.

And out-going caretaker boss Andy Awford has been impressed by Potts’ contribution so far.

He said: “I think if you would ask most whether they would rather play in West Ham’s reserves or in a first team, they want to play in the first-team environment and get some Football League experience, which he is doing and he is happy.”

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