Selection shake-up was tough call for Guy

John Sullivan missed out. Picture: Joe Pepler
John Sullivan missed out. Picture: Joe Pepler

Guy Whittingham reflected on his selection shake-up and admitted: It wasn’t easy.

Whittingham made three changes to his starting line-up at Accrington Stanley from the side who fell to a 4-1 defeat to Oxford on their League Two opening day.

Keeper Phil Smith came in for John Sullivan after an impressive showing at Bournemouth last Tuesday in the Capital One Cup.

Dan Butler was taken out of the firing line as Danny East came in for his league debut, while Romain Padovani replaced the suspended Johnny Ertl.

Pompey rewarded him with a much-improved performance at the Crown Ground against James Beattie’s side.

Whittingham admitted it was not easy making the changes he did.

He insisted his faith in Sullivan remains strong despite taking him out of the team after a single game.

Whittingham said: ‘Of course it isn’t easy to make the decisions.

‘But we went with a bit more experience in goal.

‘I’ve said before the decision is mine.

‘But the decision is made with lots of other views. It’s important to have that.

‘John’s come to a new club and that’s not easy.

‘He will be a good player and a good keeper for this club – I have no doubt about that.

‘But at the moment we feel Phil is the better option to go with.’

Whittingham was also adamant it was the right time to give Butler a rest.

The talented left-back has already picked up 20 appearances for his side.

He was caught out for the opening goal against Oxford last week, while the 18-year-old also found himself out of position when Bournemouth netted in the Capital One Cup.

Whittingham underlined his conviction the Isle of Wight ace has a big future.

But he felt it was the right time for him to step out of the spotlight.

Whittingham said: ‘Dan’s a young kid learning about the game all the time.

‘Sometimes it’s good to make the decision and take the pressure off him.

‘We felt that was the best thing to do with Dan. We spoke to him, but it’s not just me.

‘He knows he can go to the Academy lads and go to Paul Hardyman, Andy Awford, Macca or myself.

‘We think very highly about him but we have to make sure he is developed in the right way.

‘It’s the same with Ashley Harris, Jed Wallace or Adam Webster. There will be times when we pull them out and give them time off.

‘They have to understand that is part of their development.

‘Dan’s a nice, sensible kid who wants to succeed. He has good friends and family behind him.’

Padovani also showed increasing promise on his first league outing for the club.

The Frenchman – who joined from Monaco – handled the physical side of the game well and showed flashes of his passing ability.

Whittingham said: ‘I thought he had a good game. There were just a couple of occasions when he held on to it for too long.

‘But he is learning all the time and there’s no doubt he’ll be a big player for us this season.’