Barkley admits partnership with Vesty is still a work in progress
Olly Barkley admits he has yet to gel with new fly-half Sam Vesty.
Vesty arrived at The Rec from Leicester Tigers over the summer as cover for Springbok stand-off Butch James.
The South African injured his shoulder almost as soon as Vesty arrived at Bath, with the latter having now started every Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup match for his new club.
Inside centre Barkley, who is one game away from notching up 200 appearances for Bath, concedes his midfield partnership with Vesty is still a work in progress but has lauded the former Tiger for his impact on the squad.
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"It's not easy moving clubs but I actually think Sam has been one of our better players over the last few months," said Barkley.
"Our set-piece ball hasn't been what we would have liked it to have been and that puts pressure on a 10. It's hard to get rhythm and consistency on the ball, as I know from when I played there.
"We haven't gelled as well as we would have liked, it takes time, but then the whole side hasn't."
James is expected to return to action in a fortnight, having recovered from shoulder surgery, and Barkley believes the inventive South African's experience could be pivotal in injecting width back into Bath's play.
"Butch has been here for three years and he was a massive part of moving Bath to a more attacking style," explained Barkley.
"A lot of the ideas we were implementing at the end of last season when we were really successful were built through Butch, me and Claassy and how we wanted to take the game.
"He has as much understanding of our game as anyone else and that's a huge advantage he has over Sam.
"But Sam has been a huge part of the team and a great squad member. He's very much loved by everyone."
The return from international duty of England backs Matt Banahan and Shontayne Hape will also assist Bath's quest for a cutting edge in attack.
"We are missing a lot of players and a lot of the width that we had at the end of last year, which caused a lot of problems," explained Barkley.
"Defences never seemed to know where we were going to hit them and we seemed to find ways of creating that width.
"We are looking at doing that now so hopefully it will be sooner rather than later that you'll see the kind of rugby we were playing at the end of last season.
"While we've not played very well at all so far, we've not been comfortably outplayed. We're just not clicking as a side and shooting ourselves in the foot an awful lot.
"If we cut out the errors and the penalties there is no reason why we can't start that run now rather than in January."
Barkley says memories of last year's glorious post-Christmas run continue to sustain the side.
"It gives you the belief that no matter where you are in the league you can put some performances together and pull yourself back from quite a distance," he explained.
"While there is no intention for that distance to increase between us and the top teams now, what happened last season does bring belief."
As Barkley prepares to make his 200th appearance for Bath, he admits he now views himself as one of the club's mature, experienced hands.
"I feel very honoured to have played for a club like Bath and to reach 200 games is a huge privilege for me and a credit to everyone around who has helped me on the way," said the 29-year-old.
"With that comes responsibility to the club and the boys around you. I definitely feel more responsible to the younger players now, you want to set an example to them.
"That is definitely something that has hit me over the last year."