Darren Ferguson has likely been struck off Riccardo Calder's Christmas card list after the midfielder was substituted off after being substituted on against Portsmouth.
But Ferguson expects the Aston Villa loanee will understand the decision was made for the good of the team.
Doncaster Rovers went on to secure a 2-1 win over promotion rivals Portsmouth, which will certainly help Ferguson justify his decision to replace Calder with Niall Mason, 39 minutes after Calder replaced the injured Frazer Richardson.
But the Rovers boss admits it was tough to make such a call for the first time in his managerial career.
"I had to make a difficult decision with Riccardo because I'd brought him on," Ferguson said. "I've never done that before. I've never done it and just today I thought I'm going to have to do it, for the team.
"I had to do it for the team. They were getting too much joy down that side.
"It's unfortunate for the boy. I've spoken to him but you have to make these decisions.
"It was very difficult because he came on after about half an hour.
"I had to take him off or Matty Blair who was behind him. But I felt Matty defensively gives a bit more.
"I've explained it to him that as a manager you have to make decisions, some you get right, some you get wrong. I've got to do what's best for the team.
"He knows it's for the team. I'm not his best friend at the minute but I'll sit down again with him on Monday and explain it.
"I'm not saying it was the only thing that was not right at that time but certainly too many times they were getting out on the left hand side and causing problems.
"When Niall came on, more of a defensive-minded player, it helped us."