Warren Joyce admitted he was ‘disappointed’ in the boos that followed his decision to substitute striker Omar Bogle in the closing stages of Wigan Athletic’s 0-0 draw against Nottingham Forest.
The lively frontman had been his side’s biggest attacking threat for the majority of a dour encounter at the DW Stadium, but made way for Will Grigg with six minutes remaining of a game Latics desperately needed to win.
While Grigg’s presence at pitchside brought initial cheers of approval, it was quickly followed by jeers when the identity of the man to make way was announced.
Joyce, though, says he was saving the recent arrival from Grimsby from the risk of a fatigue-related injury.
When asked whether the boos from a sizeable section of the home support had left him disappointed, Joyce replied: “Yes I was really because, if I’m being perfectly honest, the kid’s come from a lower league, and he’s had a lot of games in a sustained period.
“He’s been playing on empty, as he was at QPR the other night, and we’ve asked him to do it - the same with Griggy.
“We can’t afford to get any of the forward lads injured at the moment.
“We were also looking to get a bit of forward impetus in the game.
“So yes, I am really (disappointed).”
Having already used substitutes Gabriel Obertan and Alex Gilbey for Mikael Mandron and Max Power, Joyce says he had second thoughts about sending on Grigg - who had been stripped and primed to come on just after the hour mark - because of an injury concern over vice-captain Jake Buxton.
“There’s a lot of other things...you could make the substitution early, throw Will on,” the Latics boss explained.
“But because Buxton has played with an injury, you’re loathe to open it up with 25 minutes to go, because you’re worried you might end the game with 10 men.
“To be fair to Bucko, he’s a warrior.
“But if you’d watched him in training on Friday, or even in the warm-up before the game, I didn’t think there was any way he could complete 90 minutes - not a chance.
“It just shows what kind of man he is, what kind of spirit he’s got, to put his body on the line week after week.
“He’s helped to keep a clean sheet, but it just makes some of your decisions that bit more difficult, when you’ve got that in the back of your mind.
“And that’s not making excuses, I’m just telling you the truth.
“You can make of it what you will.”
When asked whether Bogle would have been upset at being brought off despite playing well, Joyce added: “I don’t really care what he thinks, to be fair.
“I’m doing it to try and win a game - not for any other reason.
“I’m looking at his minutes, and his volume of work...if players end up breaking down because they’re pushing their bodies too much, and we lose them for a couple of months, that’s more my concern.”
Joyce had earlier sprung a selection surprise by pitching in Mandron - signed last month from non-league Eastleigh - for his debut up front alongside Bogle.
“I was pleased with Mikael,” Joyce said.
“He’s a young kid who’s come in from non-league circles.
“Griggy’s put in a hell of a slog over the last few games, and maybe looked a little bit jaded the other night - as was Bogle.
“We had to try and juggle it around, freshen it up, and I was pleased with his effort.”
The Latics boss also refused to add petrol to the debate over the playing surface at the DW, with Forest boss Gary Brazil becoming the latest manager to vent his displeasure.
“I don’t really want to talk about the pitch, or make any excuses,” added Joyce.
“It’s not a good surface, there’s no point dwelling on it. It’s the same for both sides.”