Dropping Padraig Amond was one of the toughest decisions Craig Hignett has had to make at Hartlepool United this season.
But the gaffer feels that the performance of Billy Paynter at Portsmouth totally vindicated his call to bench the Irishman.
Podge has done very well, but played every game and needs a break.
Skipper Paynter has cut a frustrated figure on the touchline during recent weeks, with little but the odd late cameo to show for his graft on the club’s Maiden Castle training pitches.
Much of that has been down to the form of Amond.
The summer signing from Grimsby has proved a steal, with Amond’s energy-laden shows up top being rewarded with seven goals in League Two to date.
His pace and workrate is something Hignett has favoured over the proven fourth tier goal threat of Paynter.
But, with times getting tough, Amond was taken out the firing line last week, and experienced campaigner Paynter brought in.
While he did not score, the 32-year-old showed evert bit of his experience and game management by drawing fouls and buying time for beleaguered, under siege Pools at Fratton Park.
It was no easy call to drop Amond, admits Hignett, but he feels it proved to be the right one.
Explaining the decision, the manager said: Billy did well, used his experience. Sometimes you need that to slow games down or to draw a foul and he is the best we have at it.
“What we miss out on once side, we gain on the other.
“He is experienced and I feel we need it in the team.
“Podge has done very well, but played every game and needs a break.
“He has looked a bit leggy even though he works his socks off every game.
“At times I don’t just want to accommodate him, he’s played on the right for us, and he’s done that in his career, but I wanted a proper midfielder in that role, to play wider and the wide men did well.”
Some Pools fans have wondered just why it has taken Hignett so long too bring last season’s hero Paynter back into the team.
Rumours of a fall out and a move away from the club have been talked about by fans.
But Hignett has no issue with the forward. In fact, he rates him very highly and has reiterated the fact he will have a big part to play for Pools, whether picked on Monday, against Blackpool, or not.
“He’s a good player,” he said.
“He has had good clubs and played at a good level.
“What’s probably stopped him is his pace from playing higher.”