He had not featured for almost four months after collecting a groin injury.
So Stuart O’Keefe was delighted to be introduced as a substitute on the hour mark of Pompey’s dramatic 3-3 draw at Rochdale.
It was the midfielder’s first appearance since being withdrawn at half-time of a home win over Bury before Christmas.
O’Keefe missed 19 games during his recovery, not that he was kicking his heels during that enforced spell out of the side.
He said: “I’ve been back training for a couple of weeks now and available for selection since the Walsall game.
“So it was good to get chucked in at the deep end during a match that was pretty end-to-end throughout.
"Injuries are part of football and you have to learn to deal with it. You can’t switch off and start slacking."
“The circumstances were tough because it was close, so it’s good for me – mentally and physically – to put the injury behind me.
“It’s been frustrating to watch from the sidelines because I came here on loan to play as many games as possible.
“But injuries are part of football and you have to learn to deal with it. You can’t switch off and start slacking.
“It’s important that when you do come back, you’re fitter than you were before and ready to help the team.”
Pompey fought from behind on three occasions to salvage a point at Spotland, with Brett Pitman bagging a brace before Matt Done’s stoppage-time own-goal.
O’Keefe said: “To claim a draw in the way we did is a positive that we can certainly take into our next game.
“Earlier on in the season we might have gone under in that situation, so although we weren’t at our best, we still managed to come away with something.
“We’ve got a lot of character and all the boys have really grown into their roles at an important time of the year.
“It’s a tough run of away games for us, with trips to Plymouth and Bradford to come, so we need to be together and ready for it.”