Appy: Our substitutes have not been good enough

Marko Futacs
Marko Futacs
Stuart O'Keefe. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey midfielder will relish facing former club

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Michael Appleton admits failure of his Pompey substitutes to perform has resulted in him being reticent to use players off the bench.

Then came the improbable victory over Doncaster.

Now the Blues boss has called for more of the same from those fringe players with a point to prove as they prepare to take on Crystal Palace tonight.

At the Keepmoat Stadium, Dave Kitson was crowned man of the match, while Marko Futacs grabbed the last-gasp winner.

In addition, Ashley Harris won plenty of praise for his performance on the right flank.

The trio had all been substitutes pitched in when Pompey were losing.

Earlier that day, Appleton conducted a squad meeting centring on the disappointing displays from those asked to come off the bench.

It is a weakness to the Blues’ game he believes has been crucial.

Yet that was ended by Kitson & Co in a display from his substitutes which Appleton is hopeful wasn’t a one-off.

He said: ‘I said to the players in our team meeting on Saturday morning that I wasn’t happy with the subs.

‘There hasn’t been a big enough impact from the substitutes coming on.

‘If you want to know why you are not in the team, the reason is you have not made a big enough impact or improvement to warrant an opportunity to be in the starting XI.

‘Then halleluiah, I made three substitutions and they made an impact.

‘I was disappointed in that meeting, I didn’t hold back, I’m not the type to hold back, any way. They seemed to get the message.

‘Sometimes that is not necessarily their fault, we have had to put a lot of young lads on the bench and give their opportunities.

‘But I just think if you really want to play in the starting XI and are desperate to play, you have to make a statement when you come on to the pitch, whether that is for five minutes or 55 minutes.

‘It has pretty much made me reticent about bringing on substitutes.

‘At the end of the day I am not going to make a substitution if I don’t think someone isn’t going to make an impact or give me what I want.

‘You can talk about “could we change this” or “could we change that?”

‘The fact is when I have made changes they haven’t done what I have asked or they have not made that difference I have been looking for.’

Appleton used Reading’s victory over Southampton last Friday as a case in point.

Adam Le Fondre climbed off the bench in the 64th minute to net twice in the Royals’ 3-1 success at St Mary’s.

Appleton added: ‘You only have to look as far as Reading – that was a great example used on Saturday morning.

‘Southampton probably dominated for 75 minutes at least and probably should have been in the lead.

‘But Reading hung in there, stuck to their beliefs, didn’t change anything.

‘He (Brian McDermott) kept his players on there for 75 minutes knowing he had someone up his sleeve to come off the bench to make an impact – and Le Fondre gets himself two goals.’