Guy Whittingham revealed a slight groin injury had played its part in his decision to substitute Brian Howard.
But the caretaker Blues boss was honest enough to admit he could well have taken the skipper off anyway.
The midfielder has been the subject of discussion in recent weeks with growing numbers of supporters losing patience with his indifferent form.
It is also believed Whittingham was set to drop the captain before the Yeovil defeat – only for a late change of heart.
But after Pompey’s insipid opening 45 minutes, Whittingham decided changes had to be made with Howard and Izale McLeod both substituted for the second half.
Whittingham said: ‘It was going to be a difficult decision.
‘But it was one that was made slightly easier because he (Howard) had a slight groin injury. We could have gone on with him but changes needed to be made.
‘So he quite possibly would have come off anyway.’
The supporters’ reaction to the substitutions at the start of the second half suggested they were in total agreement.
But Whittingham admitted that any of his starting midfield could have been taken off.
Whittingham said: ‘In the last five minutes of the first half, myself and Andy Awford were looking at a few different scenarios.
‘You have to think long and hard about it because you want to get back in the game in the first five minutes of that second half.
‘So we thought carefully about it and he (Howard) was one of the options.
‘But to be fair, any of them could have been taken off.
‘Darel Russell, Lee Williamson or Liam Walker could all have been taken off – any of that midfield.’
Howard’s injury will be assessed ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Swindon.
Defender Ricardo Rocha is also a doubt after complaining of a tight hamstring and coming off after 65 minutes.
– STEVE WILSON