GUY WHITTINGHAM got the Blues ready for another meeting with their homegrown talent and insisted: We were right to let Matt Ritchie leave.
The winger is set to make his full debut for high-flying Bournemouth tomorrow as Pompey make the short trip west looking for their first win in 19 attempts.
But having beaten the Blues twice already this season for his former club Swindon, Ritchie will be eager to make it a hat-trick in the wake of his £550,000 switch to Dean Court in January.
While many of the Fratton faithful still rue the loss of the talented 23-year-old – who was sold to the Robins by Steve Cotterill – Whittingham understands the reasons behind it.
The caretaker Blues boss said: ‘I don’t believe it was a mistake to let Matt go. In hindsight, you can say it was but with the squad that was assembled under Steve Cotterill in the Championship, he wasn’t going to get regular games.
‘He might have been a squad player but I think both him and Steve Cotterill knew at the time he would not be happy unless he was getting regular games.
‘So I don’t think it was a mistake but you look back now and think we would have done well to keep hold of him.
‘Nobody knew the situation we were going to get into as a club.
‘At the time, we had just been taken over again – so you never would have thought we would be back in administration.’
While Ritchie left for the County Ground in a deal believed to be worth £250,000 in January 2011, in all probability he would have left Fratton Park at some point since then as the financial woes unfolded.
But Whittingham saw the former Bay House student develop at close quarters.
And he predicted Ritchie is bound for a higher level than League One in the future.
Whittingham said: ‘He’s a good player.
‘I think he will push on in his career.
‘He will no doubt play in the Championship and maybe even in the Premier League.
‘Bournemouth have taken him because they want to get into the Championship and I think Matt will do well at that level.
‘He did fantastically well at Swindon helping them get promoted last season and has helped them with their form this season.
‘I had him in my development group and I saw a fair bit of him.
‘I remember having chats with him and telling him he just had to remain patient.
‘He’s a really nice kid and just wants to play football.
‘That is one of the reasons why he left here. He just wanted to play.’
Ritchie is primed to fill in at left-back for the Cherries tomorrow and Whittingham knows what to expect from him.
He said: ‘We know what he’s like as a player and he’s a really good lad.
‘If he is playing at left-back, they are very attacking.’