What Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley had to say when asked about former Sheffield United man Kieron Freeman's swift exit after second-half withdrawal at MK Dons

Danny Cowley said the team will always come first as he addressed the issue of Kieron Freeman’s swift exit down the tunnel after his second-half substitution against MK Dons.

Saturday, 11th September 2021, 6:20 pm

The full-back was replaced in the 56th-minute by transfer deadline day arrival Mahlon Romeo as the score remained goalless.

Yet rather than join the rest of the travelling Blues group in the Stadium MK dugout, the angry 29-year-old headed straight to the changing room as he registered his displeasure at the decision.

It meant the former Sheffield United defender missed Ethan Robson’s winner for the hosts, which came down Pompey’s right shortly after his departure.

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Cowley was asked about the incident by BBC Solent’s Andrew Moon at the final whistle.

The Blues head coach said it was a ‘tactical’ move he made in order to boost his side’s attacking threat down the right-hand side.

And he insisted players have a duty to put aside individual dismay and respect decisions which are made for the good of the team as a whole.

Cowley told BBC Solent: ‘It was just a tactical decision.

Kieron Freeman was replaced by Mahlon Romeo in the second half against MK Dons

‘Football is a team game. It’s an 18-man game, you have an 18-man squad.

‘We were playing with two sixes and we wanted to get more width and athleticism higher up the pitch.

‘I don’t think we got into enough good areas on the right-hand side and that’s why we made the change

‘Ultimately, it’s our jobs to make those changes and it’s the job of the players to not get caught up in individual disappointment and put the team first.’