RICHIE BARKER has been dealt a double selection blow ahead of Chesterfield.
The Pompey boss will be without promising loan pair Michael Drennan and Daniel Alfei for the trip to the League Two leaders on Monday night.
And that places extra focus on Joe Devera and Ryan Taylor’s fight for fitness for the clash at the Proact Stadium.
The Premier League duo have both received international call-ups which will rule them out of the Spireites meeting.
Drennan has been called up to the Republic of Ireland under-21 squad for their European Championship qualifier against Montenegro in Dublin on Wednesday.
And Alfei will be part of the Wales under-21 set-up who take on England in the same competition at Pride Park.
Pompey have been in discussions with both nation’s associations to see if they would release the players to take part in the testing trip.
But Barker has now had to admit defeat in that battle and accept both the Swansea and Villa loanees will have to report for their countries.
‘We’ve been in discussions with the Republic of Ireland over Michael,’ said Barker.
‘If we’d been playing on the Saturday it would have been fine. It’s the same situation with Dan Alfei. It’s just another thing which has conspired against us.’
Drennan’s absence is a blow after he made a promising start to his month’s stay at Pompey. He left the bench to score a consolation in the 5-1 thrashing at Scunthorpe last weekend.
The 20-year-old followed that up with a hard-running effort against Accrington, before being withdrawn with a head injury.
Alfei has established himself in Barker’s first team since arriving from the Liberty Stadium.
The 22-year-old has made nine appearances after agreeing to stay at Fratton Park until the end of the season.
Their absence means greater emphasis will be put on the returns of both Taylor an Devera on Monday.
Devera has been struggling with an ankle problem, with Taylor out with a groin injury.
Barker is hopeful they will be able to come back into contention.
‘They possibly could be back,’ said the Blues boss.
‘We’ll train today and tomorrow and then have a look over the next 48 hours.’
Meanwhile, Barker will weigh up a return for Simon Ferry going into the clash with Paul Cook’s men.
Ferry has been sidelined with a back injury since the 1-1 draw with Mansfield in the middle of January.
The 26-year-old has had an epidural injection to help manage the injury, and Barker now has to decide what is the right course of action for the midfielder.
He said: ‘There are certain things he can and can’t do.
‘He’s taking part in sessions but we’ll have to have a look at him. It’s not ideal, but there are options.’