Whittingham’s message to unsettled players

Liam Walker has been out of Pompey's first XI for most of the season
Liam Walker has been out of Pompey's first XI for most of the season
Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Guy Whittingham told Pompey’s frustrated fringe players: We need you.

The Blues caretaker boss believes every member of his 20-man squad is going to need to be utilised as they begin a frenetic Christmas period.

Some Pompey players are growing frustrated at their lack of playing time as the season reaches its halfway stage.

The likes of Liam Walker and Jack Compton are looking for minutes during the Blues’ battle for League One survival.

Whittingham insists he expects no less than to see the players on the sidelines unhappy at that scenario.

But with Pompey going to leaders Tranmere today to start of a run of seven games in 27 days, he knows every inch of the playing resources is going to be needed.

Whittingham said: ‘We need to plan over this period, and it’s important everyone is fit.

‘I spoke to the players on Thursday.

‘There may be some people who are disappointed they are not in the squad or not starting, but we have to manage these next few games.

‘We have to make sure we are giving ourselves the best chance to win every game we go into.

‘It’s a real squad effort over Christmas.

‘Make no bones about it, we need points because we know what is coming.

‘I think it’s unfair to expect players to accept not being in the squad. I don’t think players should do that.

‘We’ve all been in that situation.

‘You all feel disappointed, frustrated, angry, fed up and want to go somewhere else.

‘You need to get that out of your system quickly, though, because, two or three days later, you could be the one playing or coming off the bench to make the difference and the impact that counts.

‘I think they should think it isn’t right (to be left out), but they then have to get it out of the way and do it on the training pitch – because that’s the right thing to do.

‘You would ask questions if they didn’t have the desire to be out on the pitch.

‘When we come out of the other side of the Walsall game on January 4 we still need a fit squad and to have managed the period to the best of our ability.’

Pompey players were afforded some time away from training in the two-week stint without a game.

Whittingham explained that was with the busy Christmas period in mind.

He said: ‘We gave the players some time off.

‘It’s important. I insisted everyone took the time off.

‘It’s not just the players but also the staff who come in day-in, day-out.

‘It’s a great life to be in and be involved in and we are getting paid to do it.

‘It’s a busy period and Christmas is a precious time for families, as we all know.

‘We gave them time because there won’t be much for them between now and January 5.’