Brett Pitman has been a regular in Portsmouth’s starting XI and captained the team in recent weeks, but Kenny Jackett needs to deal him a devastating blow by leaving him out of the starting XI for the Checkatrade Trophy at Wembley on Sunday.
The 6 ft attacker has generally found first-team starts hard to come by for the Blues this term, but he has taken advantage of Ronan Curtis’ absence in recent weeks by taking up the No.10 role successfully, scoring in wins against Walsall and Shrewsbury Town.
The 31-year-old has done well away from his usual centre-forward role, but the clash against the Black Cats this weekend is a totally different kettle of fish given what a trophy is at stake.
Curtis himself is fit and available again after the freak accident that saw him sever part of his finger off, and the 23-year-old will be pushing for a start.
He certainly should.
11 goals and 12 assists in 34 League One appearances this term prove what an important player he is in the final third for Pompey, and they will need that quality against a Sunderland side who won’t be easy to break down on Sunday.
Gareth Evans has featured on the wing in the Irishman’s absence but looks far more comfortable in his previous role at No.10 that Pitman has been filling, and he will be needed there against Jack Ross’ side.
In Lee Cattermole and Grant Leadbitter they have central midfielders that can seriously hurt the opposition, and while Evans is decent going forward he also has that defensive nous his more experienced Portsmouth teammate doesn’t.
It will be tough for Jackett to tell Pitman that he isn’t starting at Wembley given his chances of appearing there may well be fading given his age, but it is an essential call that needs to be made.