Guy Whittingham has denied Alan Knight is being made a scapegoat for Pompey’s goalkeeping problems.
As exclusively revealed by The News yesterday, the Blues legend has left his role as goalkeeper coach – a position he held since January.
It came on the same day Trevor Carson joined on loan from Bury – and will go straight into the side to play Rochdale tomorrow.
John Sullivan and Phil Smith have both made costly mistakes in the opening nine league games of the season, prompting Whittingham to recruit another keeper.
Now their coach, Knight, has stepped aside and will instead serve as a club ambassador.
But the Blues boss has shot down suggestions the Hall of Famer, who has long-term issues with his hip and knees, is to blame for Pompey’s problems between the posts.
He said: ‘This had been something on our minds for a while – this week was the right time to do it, that’s all.
‘I actually don’t think there is ever a right week to make the decision you want to make.
‘But there had to be conversations and Alan will always have a role here as long as I am manager.
‘I want to make this clear, none of the goalkeeping issues have been pinned on Alan Knight. It was my choice to bring in those goalkeepers.
‘The errors they have made as goalkeepers, for me, are basic handling errors so there is no blame being put on him whatsoever – and I have to make that clear.
‘It’s just we think it was the right time to do something different, in a way go in a different direction and for Alan to go in a different direction.
‘He needs to be involved with this football club for a long, long time and we want to make sure he is.
‘Alan has been great, absolutely fantastic. He has been a gentleman.
‘He knows he is wanted here and loved here and knows he will also remain part of it.
‘For me, it wasn’t nice to do because he is a mate as much as anything else but we have to make sure it is right for him and for the football club.
‘As for his hip and knees, he wouldn’t admit that, knowing him!’
With the Knight switch having been finalised yesterday morning, it was Smith who took Carson and Sullivan for training.
The former Swindon man has long voiced his interest in becoming a goalkeeping coach and Whittingham intends to give him the opportunity to show his worth in the role.
He added: ‘I have told Phil it is indefinite.
‘When John Keeley went to Blackburn, Phil wanted to take over the role but I didn’t think it was the right thing to do because there were two keepers and he would have to be coaching and doing that as well.
‘We have three now so he can step out and do a little bit of that. He wants a career of being a goalkeeping coach when he finishes playing so it is an opportunity for him.’