Devera reassured over his Pompey role

Yassin Moutaouakil
Yassin Moutaouakil

Guy Whittingham has pledged to retain Joe Devera in his preferred central defensive role.

The former Swindon man was switched to right-back for Tuesday night’s trip to Bournemouth, with Bondz N’Gala coming in to partner Sonny Bradley.

That saw Yassin Moutaouakil, who has spent the past month observing Ramadan, dropping to the bench.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and involves fasting from dawn until sunset, yet finished yesterday for the Frenchman.

He is back in the reckoning for tomorrow’s trip to Accrington as Whittingham weighs up restoring some of the side who lost the opening League Two match against Oxford.

Regardless, the Pompey boss doesn’t see Devera’s long-term Pompey role as a right-back.

Whittingham said: ‘Joe is very much a central defender for us.

‘I asked him to play at right-back because I wanted to be more solid at Bournemouth.

‘Yassin has been fantastic for us and wants to play every game but he was on Ramadan at the time so we had to make sure he came through okay.

‘He has handled himself fantastically through that but he is back in contention for tomorrow and Joe is back in contention for centre half.

‘I wouldn’t say that (right-back appearance) was a one-off, I know Joe wants to play centre-half, let’s put it that way.

‘Throughout Ramadan, Yassin has not missed a session, he has been up for every game, he has been really dedicated but he is dedicated to what he does as well.

‘It hasn’t looked like it has affected him. He knows he should have done better for that goal against Oxford but it was nothing to do with Ramadan.

‘I think we have managed the situation really well.

‘Take Five Lakes for example, we would all go for lunch and he didn’t.

‘After training he wasn’t drinking or eating, so you just have to let him go and do his own thing, he was going back to bed and looking after himself.

‘We didn’t want to exert him too much in training or games when he is suffering, it was all about making sure he is fit for the first game of the season and ready to go.

‘It was important to do that and we understood why he was doing it.’

Moutaouakil was criticised for his part in the second goal during the disappointing 4-1 defeat to Oxford.

The versatile Danny East can also play in that position.

However, he moved over to left-back when Dan Butler was substituted against Bournemouth.