Kenny Jackett has revealed the reasons for wielding the axe on Brett Pitman.
The Pompey boss denied talk of a bust-up with his skipper and stated he believes he has failed to deliver this season.
Pitman has found himself out in the cold for the past three games and failed to make the Blues squad.
Jackett believes the 31-year-old has come up short in his performances and promised he isn’t afraid to make tough calls if he believes that’s the case.
He said: ‘No, there hasn’t been (a bust-up). I have been disappointed and I have told him that as well.
‘I have been disappointed with his performance level this season, not last.
‘That’s resulted in him being out and I’ve told him that. I’ve said that to him
‘In terms of where I’ve been disappointed, let’s just say it’s his overall contribution that hasn’t quite been there this year.
‘You can’t shirk those (tough decisions).
‘If you want a good team you need a good centre-forward. That’s generally the case with any good team in any division with any formation.
‘The common denominator of a good team is a good forward, whether that’s the seven and 11 in wide areas or nine and 10 slightly off him.
‘That’s where it is in a 4-2-3-1, which is my preferred formation.
‘To be a successful team you need a good number nine.
‘We’ve had some good cup runs and that’s helped us to bring in some loans and give us some depth in terms of the front positions.
‘It’s up to the players then to get the shirt. Then, after that, they have to keep it.’
Despite taking Pitman firmly out of the first-team equation of late, Jackett has refused to totally close the door on the man who fired in 25 goals last season.
But the Pompey boss looks set to focus on Oli Hawkins, James Vaughan and Omar Bogle when it comes to his striking options.
Jackett added: ‘I wouldn’t hesitate to use him
‘For Brett, he hasn’t been in the last few squads and we’ve been looking at different forward combinations.
‘But, similarly, I wouldn’t hesitate to use him if I felt it was the right thing and we don’t find the right combination.
‘If we settle down, it fires and we have the right creativity at the top of the pitch then great.
‘If that’s not the case I wouldn’t hesitate to use him whether that’s in a nine or 10 position.
‘He hasn’t been in the 18 but I won’t say that won’t be the case going forward.
‘I won’t say that. If I think it’s the right thing then he will step in.
‘If I do think he’s right on Saturday, Tuesday or next Saturday he will come back in and be involved. It depends on how things go.’