Appleton explains Michalik snub

Micheal Appleton opted to replace Kevin Long with midfielder Liam Walker

Micheal Appleton opted to replace Kevin Long with midfielder Liam Walker

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Michael Appleton has lifted the lid on his decision not to grant Lubomir Michalik his Pompey debut.

Kevin Long had to be substituted in the 45th minute after picking up a back injury during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Walsall.

Yet new recruit Michalik was surprisingly overlooked as his replacement from the bench.

Instead, midfielder Darel Russell was switched to an unaccustomed role at the centre of defence to partner Josh Thompson.

That meant a midfield reshuffle, with Liam Walker coming on to the right as a substitute and Lee Williamson moving to the centre of midfield.

To many fans, Long’s injury was tailor-made for the entrance of Michalik, who has featured for both Bolton and Leeds.

Yet Appleton explained he felt it was not the right occasion to blood the Slovakian defender who only joined Pompey on Friday afternoon.

He said: ‘Lubo has not had much football over the last couple of months or so.

‘He has been training back home, playing in a couple of behind closed doors games – and Saturday was also a football game.

‘They had one up front, five in the middle of the park and I didn’t feel we needed to bring a big man on because they weren’t really causing us a threat in aerial terms.

‘I could have quite easily put another defender in there but I wanted to win the game and it was a footballing game, a good game for footballers to play in,

‘So it was about putting Darel in there and bringing a footballer on in terms of Liam Walker.

‘Darel was fine, he did okay, but we just didn’t impose ourselves enough in the middle of the park.’

It was another frustrating Fratton Park league performance following on from the previous defeat to Oldham.

Yet Appleton praised Walsall’s display.

He added: ‘At the end of the day, Walsall worked their socks off, which you would expect from a group of young players.

‘They caused us a few problems in terms of when we did counter, but a lot of their efforts were outside the box.’