Richie Barker believes Thery Racon possesses the attributes to play alongside Nicky Shorey in the heart of Pompey’s midfield.
Romain Padovani has been the preferred partner to Shorey in the past three matches, two of which have been away from home.
Yet the Frenchman struggled to impose himself in the 1-0 defeat to Torquay last weekend, and his role at Exeter tomorrow has come under scrutiny. During that period Racon has been an unused substitute, having featured in the five previous matches – starting four of them.
With Simon Ferry still out with a back injury and Johnny Ertl out of favour, Racon remains the player most likely to earn a recall in place of Padovani.
And Barker has conceded there would not be a problem pairing him with Shorey, if required.
He said: ‘Thery is a different type of player to Romain and, as we have said before, we want different options.
‘I don’t see why he can’t play with Nicky, and there will be times when I’ll pick somebody who is relevant for the game we are looking to play at that particular time.
‘The pair of them can certainly pass the ball between them, so there may be opportunities at times they can both play.
‘He doesn’t cover the ground Romain does but is probably a little bit more composed on the ball.
‘In the couple of games he played over Christmas, I thought he was excellent.
‘The pair of them would probably play a bit deeper and there would be less ground covered, but they would certainly be cooler on the ball and use it better.
‘Romain and Racon are two different types of players.
‘I put people working in pairs and look at people and ask can they complement the person playing alongside them.
‘If you have too many players who are all the same you don’t really get anywhere.’
It was Barker who brought Padovani back into the first-team frame and the 24-year-old responded by netting the winner against Dagenham & Redbridge.
Meanwhile, such was Racon’s impression on the new boss, he was last month presented with a contract until the end of the season.
As for Shorey, he has started the past five Blues matches in the centre of midfield, having made his name at Reading as a left-back.
Barker has been impressed with his contribution so far.
And the battle is now on to see who will line-up alongside him.