DORCHESTER Town manager Callum Brooks defended his decision to leave star winger Tom Blair out of his starting line-up for the 3-2 BetVictor Southern Premier South loss to Hartley Wintney.

Blair, who is set to serve a one-game suspension for receiving a red card at Blackfield & Langley on Bank Holiday Monday, scored in the 80th minute after coming on at half-time.

Blair gave Magpies’ fans a timely reminder of his precocious talent with an impressive display off the bench on Saturday, leading some members of the home faithful questioning his demotion to the dugout.

But Brooks hinted his decision was disciplinary-based with the winger having been booked five times in four games prior to the contest.

Asked whether he regretted not starting Blair, Brooks told Echosport: “No, because it was the right thing for Tom and the group, which is always my primary focus.

“At the moment, Tom’s our match-winner and our biggest goal threat.

“No-one wants to start Tom more than myself, but his discipline issues this season haven’t been poor, they’ve been abnormally bad.

“It’s a common theme. Tom knows how much I think of him – we met and spoke last week. For him to have the career that I feel he can have in non-League, he needs to change.”

Brooks revealed he is set to work closely with Blair to resolve the issue, labelling previous attempts akin to “sticking a plaster over a tumour”.

“He wants to change, so we’re dealing with it in-house,” he said. “We’ve got a programme for Tom – I don’t need to teach him to beat a man. I need to sort his disciplinary record out.

“As much as he’s changed the game for us the last two or three games, we’ve spent a lot of time managing Tom – I had to take him off at Salisbury.

“I need Tom for the season. I need him right, he’s suspended next week.

“That gives us a two-week period to focus on some work with Tom. What people have always done with him is tell him he needs to change but not told him how.

“In my opinion that’s like sticking a plaster over a tumour. The lad’s got a great future if we can address his discipline issues.

“I’ve taken a longer-term plan with Tom and that’s for the lad, the club and the group. We’ve had to take him out (of the starting XI) in order to put that into action.

“It’s not something I wanted to do, but I’ve got a duty of care for players and in my opinion it was the right thing to do.”