Guy Whittingham is mulling over his first selection changes in six games as he bids to keep Pompey fresh.
The caretaker Blues boss has stuck with the same 11 men for the past five matches but is considering his options ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Coventry City.
Whittingham has detected a few signs of tiredness among his young players and is also keen to see off any threat of complacency among those who have started every game in recent weeks.
And that means the likes of Jed Wallace, Dan Butler and Liam Walker could make way, with Shaun Cooper, Jack Maloney and Adam Webster among those pushing for a starting spot.
Whittingham said: ‘There might be one or two changes this time.
‘What you don’t want is any complacency.
‘I’m not saying there will be changes but it’s something we’re thinking long and hard about.
‘Are people taking their foot off the pedal a little bit because they think they are part of a consistent team?
‘So is this the right time to make one or two moves, thinking people are just maybe backing off a little bit when they should be forcing themselves a lot more?
‘The classic was at Doncaster and we asked them to get in their faces on a pitch like that to stop them passing the ball. We weren’t at it enough.
‘Maybe sub-consciously you get comfortable because you are starting every game and the team is doing alright.
‘That is why people like Wayne Rooney are so good because they don’t stop.’
While the 18-year-old duo of Butler and Wallace have shown no obvious signs of fatigue, Whittingham is keen to be careful with them.
He said: ‘I think there might be a bit of tiredness creeping in.
‘I’m sure over the next few games we might rest one or two.
‘It’s a lot to ask. Dan Butler, for example, has come out of Havant & Waterlooville but is 18 and playing first-team football in front of big crowds.
‘When you introduce youngsters, you want to do it nice and slowly, give them a few games and dip them in and out.
‘Dan has done well for us, don’t get me wrong, but there might be a time when we give him a rest.
‘The past two games have summed Jed up.
‘At Leyton Orient, he had a terrific game.
‘His energy was fantastic, his touch was good and his passing was decent.
‘But at Doncaster, if he hadn’t scored that goal, it probably would have been his worst game of the season. He admits that himself.’
It’s a tricky balancing act for Whittingham, who has overseen a big improvement with some stability and consistent selection but is also eager to maintain the competition for places.
He said: ‘It’s a skill and an art of management in knowing when to change it.’