Andy Barcham is only fresh concern as Scunthorpe United prepare to face Crawley Town
WINGER Andy Barcham will have a fitness test ahead of Scunthorpe United's game with Crawley Town tomorrow.
Manager Brian Laws says the former Gillingham player is a 'little concern' for the Red Devils' first-ever visit to Glanford Park, having received a knee in the thigh during Tuesday's win over Portsmouth.
Barcham was withdrawn at half-time against Pompey, with Mike Grella coming on in his place.
But Laws insisted after that victory, United's first in front of their own fans since September, that his thinking behind that switch was purely tactical.
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He said: "We felt Barch was working hard but he wasn’t at the races on Tuesday as much as he had been on Saturday (in the 1-0 defeat at Crewe Alexandra).
“His end product wasn’t quite there and we needed more quality.
“We felt that with Grella’s ability with the ball at his feet, he could open the door for us, particularly in the wide areas.
“It helped us stretch the game a bit more and it also added a striker to the park."
Barcham, signed by Alan Knill when his contract with the League Two Gills had run out in the summer of 2011, was one of Scunthorpe's star performers last season. He bagged 10 goals and was United's top scorer.
This term though he has struggled for form.
He has not netted since being one of five goalscorers in United's epic Carling Cup first round triumph at Derby County in the opening game of the campaign and of his 28 appearances, eight have been from the bench.
Despite Barcham's inconsistency, boss Laws labelled his recent contribution as 'excellent'.
The United manager is keen to see the 26-year-old improve his end product, but is hopeful Barcham will also weigh in with goals to boost his side's bid to steer clear of relegation.
“His work ethic is as high as I’ve seen in any player - he works as hard going forward as he does when he’s defending," assessed Laws.
"I wish I’d have had someone like him playing in front of me when I was a full-back because it would have made my job a lot easier.
“The only thing that’s missing from his game is the end product – that’s the only thing you could be critical about.
“His final ball and his shooting boots have disappeared for some reason.
“Maybe if he gets a goal he’s another who’ll have lift off an go on a run because he’s got it in his locker.
“When he does get that first goal it will be a relief for him."
Christian Ribeiro and Damien Mozika (hamstring injuries) are still not ready to return to the first-team squad and Robbie Gibbons has been missing of late because of illness.
Although Laws spoke earlier this week of his desire for consistency in terms of the Iron starting XI, it wouldn't be too much of a surprise to see centre-back David Mirfin return to the fold against 16th placed Crawley given Niall Canavan was not at his best against Portsmouth.
Red Devils boss Richie Barker was a spectator at Glanford Park on Tuesday, after his side's match at Sheffield United had been postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.
Scunthorpe go into Saturday's game on the back of one defeat in six matches, with their performance against Pompey much more lacklustre than the majority of those that had gone before.
With that in mind, Laws says his opposite number may not have picked the ideal night for a scouting mission.
“I can’t really answer honestly why the performance on Tuesday wasn’t as good as they have been," said Laws.
“We’ll certainly be in a better frame of mind and, no question, we’ll be better in a footballing sense on Saturday.
“I’m delighted the Crawley manager was here on Tuesday, because he’ll have learned nowt."