Drennan full debut delight for Barker

Michael Drennan battles against Accrington. Picture: Joe Pepler
Michael Drennan battles against Accrington. Picture: Joe Pepler

It was the consolation goal at Scunthorpe which would earn Michael Drennan his maiden Pompey start on Tuesday night.

And Richie Barker believes the 20-year-old repaid his faith with a sparkling performance in the precious 1-0 triumph over Accrington Stanley.

Now the Blues boss is waiting to learn whether the loanee from Aston Villa will be available to face Chesterfield following a call-up into the Republic of Ireland under-21 squad.

A close-range header on his Pompey debut having climbed off the bench capped an encouraging Drennan debut at Glanford Park.

Certainly enough to convince Barker to name him in his line-up against Accrington ahead of Patrick Agyemang, with Ryan Taylor still sidelined through injury.

It was an eye-catching display too, the striker’s energy and battling qualities impressing.

A concern for Barker now centres on whether Drennan can play on Monday night at the Proact Stadium (7.45pm), with the Republic of Ireland youngsters facing Montenegro in a European Championship qualifier on Wednesday in Dublin.

Regardless, Pompey’s manager has been pleased with the contribution of the former Carlisle loanee so far.

He said: ‘I decided to go with Michael after he scored at the weekend.

‘I also thought he would thrive in the atmosphere of playing on a Tuesday night at Fratton Park with a good home support behind us.

‘He deserved his chance and stuck at his task extremely well for somebody who has barely played at this level and probably the biggest crowd he has ever played in front of.

‘Sometimes you take people from development football and you think he must just be pass, pass, pass, pass, pass – but Michael certainly didn’t do that.

‘He is a strong little so-and-so, he is really physically developed, we have been watching him for six months now and we’ve seen him physically develop.

‘He broke his foot in pre-season when we were looking to take him to Crawley and he has certainly physically developed over the last six months and doesn’t hang about.

‘In the end he ended up cutting the back of his head and came off, their lad also cut the front of his head in the incident.

‘We were already discussing whether we were going to bring him off and put Thery (Racon) on because they were playing with a man in the hole and we felt we needed somebody to negate that, so the decision was made for us.’

Drennan’s strike partner for the last one-and-a-half matches has been Jake Jervis, who netted the only goal of the game against James Beattie’s side.

It was a fourth goal in eight games for the ex-Birmingham striker who endured such a patient wait to be declared eligible for Pompey.

And crucially Tuesday represented the first occasion he has been the Blues’ match-winner.

Barker added: ‘It was a fantastic goal, a goal deserving to win a football match.

‘It came from nothing, he often drifts out wide and we think that he should be doing it more often. He’s a bit reluctant to shoot at times, but the boy can finish to be fair and we want to see more of it.’