Pompey boss: Moutaouakil still my first choice

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Guy Whittingham has insisted Yassin Moutaouakil remains his first-choice Pompey right-back.

The Frenchman’s first-team presence has come under scrutiny following the blunder which gifted the opening goal to Plymouth last weekend.

Yassin Moutaouakil in action at Plymouth as Guy Whittingham looks on. Picture: Joe Pepler

Yassin Moutaouakil in action at Plymouth as Guy Whittingham looks on. Picture: Joe Pepler

That appearance was his first league game back following the ill-discipline at Burton which saw him red-carded for kicking an opposition player on the floor.

Moutaouakil displayed the other side to his game at Home Park by being involved in Jed Wallace’s equaliser and then producing a brilliant goal-saving block to deny Reuben Reid.

Whittingham finds himself with plenty of alternatives at right-back for tomorrow’s visit of Bury, with Joe Devera and Shaun Cooper available and Danny East now back from a hamstring injury.

Nonetheless, he is keeping faith with the player he rescued from non-league football last season to give him another Football League opportunity.

He said: ‘Yassin is still my number one right-back at this moment in time.

‘He made a mistake (at Plymouth). I think he got a call from Trevor that he had time and he went to control it and mis-controlled it.

‘But he made up for it in the end with the block at the other end, a fantastic challenge when it could have been goal-bound.

‘He put the ball in for our goal – just like he did against Oxford.

‘It’s good and bad and what you have got to do is encourage him not to take risks.

‘He has that attacking edge but if you look at his game as a whole as a defender one-v-one he doesn’t get outdone many times.

‘Yassin has pace and is strong in the challenge, his timing of tackles is very good.

‘Obviously people look at what he did on Saturday and he was the first to put his hand up and say yes he made a mistake but he was trying to be a footballer and get the ball down and play.

‘You look back and think if he hadn’t made that one error would we have come away winning the game, who knows?

‘Did it cost us the game? I don’t think it was just that, there were other things we could have done better but ultimately he is the man in the position.’

The previous match Moutaouakil was involved in both of Pompey’s goals in the 2-1 win over Oxford.

Yet it is in defence where the manager believes a more sensible approach is required.

Whittingham added: ‘He’s encouraged to make sure that safety comes first, especially in those positions.

‘With the full-back, the centre-half and the goalkeeper, if you make a mistake it can quite often be costly.

‘With John Marquis it is a mistake if he misses chances but they don’t seem to be as costly.

‘So they have to understand the position they are in and they cannot take risks.’