It’s a decision Kenny Jackett would have spent a significant amount of time pondering – and would have been aware of the fans’ reaction.
With Matt Clarke out for the first month of the season, and Nathan Thompson also absent for Pompey’s League One bow against Rochdale, an opportunity has arisen for Tom Davies or Jack Whatmough to partner Christian Burgess at centre-back.
The former appears to be ahead in the pecking order after starting against Bournemouth last Saturday and Bognor the week previously. He also replaced Clarke when he limped out at the Hawks.
Several members of the Fratton faithful have scrutinised Jackett’s team selection and believe Academy graduate Whatmough is the more talented of the pair.
Davies struggled in his maiden season in P04. He amassed just 14 appearances in the Blues’ League Two title-winning campaign with many coming off the bench.
Nonetheless, at 25, Jackett feels the former Accrington man is more mature than the fledgling Whatmough to start in the third tier.
‘Tom is competitive and aggressive in a centre-back position where in your mid-to-late 20s you go on to have your best time,’ the Pompey manager said.
‘That is because, like goalkeepers, it is a decision-making position.’
Whatmough has a significant future at Fratton Park – some are even adamant he’ll be wearing the captain’s armband in years to come.
The Gosport-born defender has been highly regarded at the club since joining as an 11-year-old and, in the future, will likely be the better of the duo.
But he still has to develop a lot more at the tender age of 20.
Davies got criticism for being beaten too easily by Benik Afobe in the build-up to Lys Mousset’s opener against Bournemouth.
However, he was facing a different calibre of opposition compared to who he’ll be marking in League One.
Although Davies isn’t the most comfortable with the ball at his feet, that will only develop through confidence and support.
And the way to make that happen is to embrace Jackett’s decision.
It’s not a foregone conclusion the former Manchester United youth player will play alongside Burgess against Rochdale given Pompey travel to Crawley on Saturday.
But if Davies is picked ahead of Whatmough on August 5, rallying behind him is the right way to respond and no doubt that’s how the Fratton faithful will react.