Whittingham to hand Rocha a rest

Pompey defender Ricardo Rocha played a full 90 minutes against Coventry on Saturday
Pompey defender Ricardo Rocha played a full 90 minutes against Coventry on Saturday

Guy Whittingham will nurse Ricardo Rocha through his Pompey return to get the maximum from the defender.

The Blues caretaker boss is happy to hand the Portuguese ace a rest from training as he makes his Fratton Park comeback.

Whittingham brought the 34-year-old back to the club last week – five months after he was released by the Blues.

Rocha has had a busy introduction to League One football, playing 55 minutes against Leyton Orient last Tuesday when he was expected to remain on the bench.

That was followed by a 90-minute outing at Coventry on Saturday.

Whittingham is keen to guard against pushing Rocha too hard as he builds up his fitness.

He explained, if that means handing the former Spurs man a rest from training to get the best out of him on a match day, that is something he will do.

‘Ricardo’s had five months off,’ said Whittingham. ‘It’s about managing these things.

‘I remember as a player, if you didn’t have a manager who realised that, as you get older, you need a little longer to recover it could be a problem.

‘We’ll give him all the chances in the world to do that. It’s the team on the day that counts, not in training the previous day.

‘If someone needs an extra day to recover or have a massage, whoever it will be, that’s what you do. You manage the situation.’

Whittingham feels Rocha is someone he can consult over his fitness on an ongoing basis as the season wears on.

He said: ‘You leave it to him pretty much day-in, day-out to make sure he’s taking care of himself.

‘We all know there’s a few high-maintenance people around. But Ric is a sensible guy and will get on with things and do what’s best for him and the team.’