Defender’s Pompey future in balance

Sam Sodje is shown a red card at Oldham. Picture: Joe Pepler
Sam Sodje is shown a red card at Oldham. Picture: Joe Pepler

Sam Sodje’s Pompey career could be over after his red-card woe.

The Blues centre-back was sent off for an alleged punch during an altercation with Oldham’s Lee Barnard early in the second half of Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Boundary Park.

While he had turned in two impressive displays in recent games, the powerful defender is now facing a ban for violent conduct.

The Oldham defeat was the final game in his month-long contract.

He had already agreed an extension to his stay at Fratton Park.

However, with an imminent suspension set to rule him out of the Blues’ next three games, caretaker boss Guy Whittingham could yet tear up the new deal.

Whittingham was clearly angry at the player’s conduct.

But he stopped short of criticising him in public and also prevented Sodje from speaking to the media to explain his side of the story.

Instead, Whittingham was keen to see footage of the incident himself – and will wait on the referee’s report before deciding what action to take.

He said: ‘I didn’t see it but I saw the incident beforehand.

‘Yassin Moutaouakil came back feeling a bit aggrieved he was pushed over the barrier by Jordan Obita.

‘He started running in and then everyone got excited.

‘After that, I genuinely did not see it but I will look at the DVD and act accordingly.

‘The linesman said straight away Sam punched him. We will see. The coverage I have seen wasn’t that clear.

‘But there was no need for him to be anywhere near it.

‘If you do get involved in it, you do it to pull your players away – not get involved yourself.

‘So we will wait for the referee’s report, we will see what it says and then we will decide from there.’

Whittingham would have every right to feel let down by Sodje.

He gave the player the nod over Ricardo Rocha to partner Gabor Gyepes in the centre of defence.

It has been suggested Sodje threw two punches – spotted by the referee’s assistant – at Barnard’s midriff during the meleé.

The 32-year-old apologised to the manager in the dressing room after the game.

But it seems Whittingham gave him short shrift as he chose not to even discuss the incident with the player.

‘Sam apologised afterwards but that’s no good to us,’ said the caretaker boss.

‘I haven’t even asked him what happened but, of course, I’m not happy about it.

‘We’re in a position where we’re desperate to win a game and you can’t win games with 10 men.’

Whittingham explained his decision to select Sodje ahead of Rocha was tactical, rather than down to an injury.

He said: ‘We knew Oldham would be strong in the air.

‘We felt Sam and Gabor would be able to put themselves about a bit more.’