Jed Wallace has been told to learn from his suspension as Andy Awford weighs up his replacement options.
Pompey’s top goalscorer will miss the game against Accrington Stanley tomorrow because of a one-match ban – a sizeable blow considering he has been the main source of goals this season.
It leaves Wallace’s regular spot on the right of midfield up for grabs with Ricky Holmes pressing his claims with a bright performance in the reserves before a tight thigh saw him substituted at the break.
But loan recruit Lee Holmes could also be drafted in on the opposite flank as he looks for his first start, following an impressive cameo in the 3-1 defeat to Tranmere Rovers last time out.
If the Preston man gets the nod, that could also see Miles Storey switch wings, moved up front or dropped to the bench.
While Awford was understandably coy on his selection decision, he admits that the 20-year-old is a tough act to follow.
Awford said: ‘He has scored 11 goals this season so it doesn’t matter who you are, you are going to miss someone who has 11 goals in the bag already.
‘He will be a miss, of course he will, but we have a squad to deal with that.
‘I think it’s a learning curve for him, definitely.
‘He’s young – he’s still only 20 – but I think it’s the first time he’s been suspended as far as I can remember.
‘He has missed games through injury or being left out but it’s a different thing for him to understand and take on.
‘If he wasn’t suspended, he would be playing. I think everybody knows that he would have been in my team.
‘But he isn’t available, so we have to get on with it.’
Considering Wallace is not the type of player to fly into tackles, Awford confirmed the matter had been discussed because of the nature of his yellow cards.
The Blues boss said: ‘I’m a little bit disappointed he’s got to five bookings at this stage of the season because I can’t really remember him making a tackle, let alone a foul!
‘Players pick up bookings and we have a way of dealing with that internally. We have spoken about it.
‘I think a lot of his bookings have been borne out of frustration and petty ones.
‘But he misses out so it’s an opportunity now for someone else to come in and take the bull by the horns. The two Holmes are the players you are looking at.
‘We had a practice match among ourselves last weekend and we’ve had a good look at it.
‘Another option is to play Miles Storey on the right and bring Lee in on the left or play Ricky on the left.
‘I could play Lee on the left, Ricky on the right and then Miles comes into the equation up front alongside Ryan Taylor and Craig Westcarr.
‘There are plenty of options.’
Awford insists injury will not be a factor, despite Holmes’ early departure in the 2-2 draw with Newport County on Tuesday afternoon.
‘Ricky is fine,’ said the Pompey boss.
‘He had a niggle in his thigh and there was no point in putting him through it any more.
‘If it had been a training session, he would have dropped out. But he trained yesterday and he is okay.’