Guy Whittingham has warned Pompey skipper Brian Howard: Your place is under serious threat.
By his own admission, the Blues captain has failed to show his best form since his summer move to Fratton Park and has become a target for frustrated fans in the wake of the team’s dreadful run of form.
Caretaker boss Whittingham has now revealed for the first time that he is prepared to make a bold statement and axe the out-of-sorts midfielder ahead of tomorrow’s home showdown with Yeovil in a bid to end Pompey’s 11-match winless run.
Whittingham said: ‘I don’t know why it hasn’t quite happened for Brian yet.
‘Is it the situation we are in? Is it that we haven’t got the midfield combination right?
‘It’s probably a combination of all things and I don’t think I can pin it down to one thing.
‘Brian does get some stick, and one thing I do know is that it doesn’t affect him, even though he does notice it.
‘He’s someone who thinks hard about his performances.
‘He knows – and he has told me before – that nobody could complain if anyone was dropped. We haven’t won in 11 games.
‘If we decided to go down that route, who can complain if they are out of the side?
‘So we’re thinking long and hard about what we do about it and who are the best players to play against Yeovil.’
For a player of undoubted quality and pedigree who has played the majority of his career in the Championship or at least in the higher reaches of League One, it is one of the mysteries of the season why Howard has failed to deliver for Pompey.
He has scored just one goal for the club – in a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash with Bournemouth back in September – and missed only one game through suspension since making his debut.
While Whittingham will make a final decision on his team after training today, he may yet choose to give Howard a stay of execution.
But the Blues boss believes the 29-year-old will not shirk from the challenge if he is given the nod once again, while there are several others who could also be in danger of losing their place.
‘Sometimes it just doesn’t happen for people. There is not always a reason for it,’ said Whittingham.
‘He is the captain of the team and he does say things in the changing room that helps other players out.
‘He is very honest and is one of those who will keep giving his all.
‘He is someone who will always want to get on the ball and he doesn’t hide from pressurised situations.
‘You need characters like that.
‘There are players out there – not necessarily Portsmouth players – who go hiding.
‘We’ve all played with them and seen them in different teams in the past.
‘He is definitely not one of those. I think that marks him out as a captain.’