Conor Shaughnessy was nowhere to be seen when the team was announced for Pompey’s match with Bristol Rovers on the opening day of the season.
So the defender could have been forgiven for thinking he was down the pecking order following his summer switch from Burton.
But after impressing in the Carabao Cup win at Forest Green just a few days later, he has not looked back.
Shaughnessy has played every minute of the past three League One games – all of which have seen the Blues keep a clean sheet.
And the Irishman has enjoyed the chance to build up a productive partnership with Regan Poole at the back.
He said: “I knew I had a chance in the cup game and was just focused on taking that opportunity when it came.
“It worked out well and I got some really positive feedback off the back of it, then was in the team on the Saturday.
"It’s an all-round game and it’s not just about being able to head and kick it anymore. It’s our job to allow the creative players to do their job."
“When you then get a good result and keep a clean sheet, it makes it hard for the manager to change things.
“Regan and I are both confident on the ball and you have to be able to bring it out – although the first thing is to defend the goal.
“It’s an all-round game and it’s not just about being able to head and kick it anymore. It’s our job to allow the creative players to do their job.
“The lads in the starting 11 know that there are 11 others behind us ready to fight for the place. It keeps you on your toes.
“It raises the standards of the group and so having those options is a great thing for the manager to have.”
Pompey will look to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign when they visit Stevenage this weekend.
Shaughnessy said: “We’ll be going there to try to win the game and if we can keep another clean sheet then that would be brilliant.
“Hopefully we can produce another solid performance against a good team and come away with the result.”