Barker: Time will tell our quality

Crawley Town V Brighton & Hove Albion (Pic by Jon Rigby)
Crawley Town V Brighton & Hove Albion (Pic by Jon Rigby)

Crawley Town learned they aren’t the only club with pitch problems after last night’s (Tuesday’s) match away at Sheffield Utd was called off.

The north of the country has been hit by snow this week and although it had thawed it left the Blades’ Bramall Lane pitch waterlogged and deemed dangerous by the referee following a 1pm pitch inspection.

It denied Richie Barker a match-up with his former mentor Danny Wilson, though former Blade Kyle McFadzean could be available for the rearranged fixture.

The defender continues to struggle with a mysterious virus and Barker said: “Kyle has been training by himself. He’s travelled up to Sheffield with us and is improving day by day but it’s coming on slowly.”

Joe Walsh was also due to miss the game on Wales duty which would have left Reds struggling in defence.

With nine players leaving and seven replacements in the January transfer window it was a very different Crawley side which earned a highly creditable draw with Swindon at the Broadfield on Saturday (match report and reaction on page 54 and 55).

The loan window opens this Thursday and Barker is looking to bring in one more player from two potential targets.

Asked whether he felt the side was stronger now than before January he said: “I’m pleased with how we’ve done, although there were a couple we lost which wasn’t ideal, the main one being Hope (Akpan), but when a Premiership club comes in you have to let him have that chance.

“The team is now younger and will improve, but that won’t happen overnight, only time will tell how good the squad is.”

One thing the changes have done is rein in the playing budget, with strikers John Akinde (released) and skipper Gary Alexander (season loan to AFC Wimbledon) both departing on transfer deadline day.

New chief executive Richard Low told the Fans’ Forum on Monday night the playing budget had been ‘substantial and needed controlling’ and that letting Gary Alexander leave meant a player on a ‘very large salary’ wasn’t warming the bench.

With the arrival of three strikers Barker could no longer garuntee Alexander first team football, and having struggled for goals he made an instant impression for his new club, scoring on his debut in a 1-1 draw with Burton Albion.

Akinde meanwhile said he was in talks with a number of clubs after a disappointing year and a half as a Red.

He this week said: “The decision to leave was mutual, I wanted to find a club who will give me a chance. Obviously I’m disappointed it didn’t work out at Crawley but there’s no bitterness and the fans were always great to me.”