‘Steady’ Smith the right selection for Pompey boss

Phil Smith makes a great stop to deny Shaun Harrad. Picture: Joe Pepler
Phil Smith makes a great stop to deny Shaun Harrad. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Guy Whittingham admitted Phil Smith’s ‘steady’ character earned him his Pompey recall against Bury.

The 33-year-old won the nod ahead of John Sullivan to deputise for Trevor Carson, who was unable to face his parent club on Saturday.

It was Smith’s first appearance since the costly slip at Mansfield in August, spending his time on the bench for the next nine matches.

But he returned against the Shakers to record Pompey’s third clean sheet of the season as their improved run of late continued.

In the process the former Swindon man pulled off a stunning second-half save, low down to his left, as Whittingham’s men fought to keep the visitors at bay.

Carson will be back in the team for tomorrow’s Wycombe game.

But Whittingham was pleased with the display of stand-in Smith.

He said: ‘Phil is just a steady character and I felt we needed a steady character in there on Saturday.

‘It was a good save in the second half and shows he has been on his toes in training as well, so that’s good.

‘As our goalkeeping coach, he joins in as well.

‘It’s not that he coaches and doesn’t do anything between the sticks. He joins in training every single day.

‘He was decent on Saturday, although I think a couple of his kicks were aimed at me on the touchline in the second half.

‘But he was good enough to get a clean sheet.

‘There was an injury issue with him on Friday as well.

‘I would not say we were panicked but he kicked a post in training and had to come off.

‘It did get a little bit worrying at one stage, but he came in and got treatment.

‘He was always going to play, you just have that worry but he was fine.’

Meanwhile, Whittingham has confirmed John Marquis’ loan spell has been extended.

The Millwall striker scored twice in five matches during his first month with the Blues.

Whittingham added: ‘It has all been agreed and it will be for another month.

‘We will also be looking into the others (on short-term deals).

‘I would think there will be one or two more staying as well.’

– NEIL ALLEN