Whittingham faces Butler left-back dilemma

Dan Butler, left and Shaun Cooper
Dan Butler, left and Shaun Cooper
Pompey and Fulham drew 3-3. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss disappointed not to get victory

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Pompey caretaker boss Guy Whittingham has admitted victory over Coventry has given him an intriguing left-back dilemma.

Dan Butler was rested on Saturday having appeared in all of the Blues’ previous 13 fixtures.

That opened the door for Shaun Cooper to be recalled to the starting XI for the first time in seven matches and he was asked to fill Butler’s role.

The 29-year-old was caught the wrong side of Cody McDonald to concede a debated penalty in the sixth minute, although Gary McSheffrey’s spot-kick was saved by Simon Eastwood.

Nonetheless, he responded by launching the attack which netted Pompey’s opening goal, exchanging passes with Jed Wallace to carve out the opportunity for the youngster to score.

In the second half, Cooper teed up Liam Walker, whose superb deep cross from the left was headed home by Patrick Agyemang.

Butler remained an unused substitute during the 2-0 Pompey victory which lifted them off the foot of the League One table.

The next match is at Preston on Good Friday and in the build-up Whittingham has a big decision to make over who plays at left-back.

He said: ‘Dan has done fantastically well for us.

‘We asked him during the week if, at the beginning of the season, he thought he would play 12 league games for the first-team and he said “no way”.

‘He has been really pleasing, his attitude has been fantastic, as have all the young lads.

‘It was just the right time for Dan to step out and take a rest.

‘He has given his all and I have always said we cannot keep playing the young players all the time.

‘Sometimes they need a rest and I think it was right for him this week.

‘Shaun had an injury and found himself out of the side because of that but came in and did a great, solid job for us.

‘That’s one of the reasons why he is here because he can play in different positions and I think defensively had a great game.

‘He has played there (left-back) before. He almost tripped over himself a couple of times when he went to clear with his left foot but had a big part to play in the first goal with his experience of being tight to people and getting the ball into the box.

‘We are lucky we have someone like that who can step in and play positions all over the pitch.

‘It doesn’t necessarily mean Dan will now come back in for Preston, though. We will see how he is.’

After being recalled from a loan spell at the Hawks at the turn of the year, Butler has been Whittingham’s regular left-back.

He made his Football League debut in a 3-1 home defeat to Hartlepool on January 26 and played in every Blues match since.

That was until Cooper received the nod for the visit of the Sky Blues.

There may yet be further competition in the left-back berth before the season is out, with Whittingham keeping a close eye on Alex Grant.

He has made 11 appearances at left-back during his current loan at the Hawks.