Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley has told The News that his decision to substitute Kieron Freeman in the second half was purely tactical after the player showed his displeasure at the move.
Pompey ended up losing 1-0 away at MK Dons on Saturday thanks to a goal by Ethan Robson for the home side and it means that Cowley and his staff will now once again be heading back to the drawing board after also suffering a heavy loss against AFC Wimbledon in midweek.
Freeman started the game at right back, before being replaced just shy of the hour mark by Millwall loanee Mahlon Romeo, which then led to the former storming straight down the tunnel instead of just taking his place on the bench.
Now Cowley has moved to play down the incident, as he stated the following after the game:
“It was just a tactical decision.
“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.”
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Freeman is one of several new signings that the club made this summer and will be hoping that he can keep his place in the starting line up despite the arrival of Romeo.
The 29-year-old defender has signed a two year contract with the South Coast side and has previous experience of playing in the Football League for the likes of Sheffield United and Derby County in years gone by.
This is an incident that Cowley has understandably looked to play down and hopefully for Portsmouth’s sake it’ll only be an isolated incident of frustration more than anything else.
Freeman obviously felt he still had something to contribute during the game and there is nothing wrong with showing some passion, but he should have simply just gone and sat on the bench.
Pompey now have a decision to make over who to start in that right back slot next game and it will be interesting to see if the 29-year-old keeps his place or not.
Cowley is good at making tough decisions and it appears he may well be due to make another one in the coming matches.