Michael Appleton has demanded more from his senior players to get Pompey’s season firing.
The Blues boss wants his elder statesmen to stand up and be counted as he looks to propel his team up League One.
Appleton admits the likes of Brian Howard and Lee Williamson have not yet sparked to life in the manner hoped this season.
He feels the stop-start manner of his side’s campaign has a lot to do with that, as Pompey wait for their future to become clear.
But he reckons those players also need to take on more responsibilty in games and help the development of talents like Adam Webster, who has started the past four games.
Asked if Howard and Williamson haven’t yet hit the heights expected of them, Appleton responded: ‘I think it’s fair. But that’s probably just where we are as a club, as well.
‘If they were playing at somewhere like Tranmere at the minute, they’d probably be playing at a higher level in terms of their form and keeping those standards.
‘It’s about sustaining a level of performance over a period of time. That will come with winning games and not losing them.
‘They have to take more responsibility, though.
‘My team talk before Tuesday’s game focused on responsibilty and taking the game by the scruff of the neck.
‘They have to do that. They are experienced enough to do that and they’ve got to do that.
‘They’ve got to drag people around them.
‘I felt players like young Ash (Harris) and Webby (Webster) needed a bit of help the other night but I don’t think they quite got it off some players.’
Pompey’s habit of giving the first goal away this season returned in dreadful fashion against Wycombe on Tuesday – as they conceded after just 13 seconds.
Appleton knows an upturn in league form owed much to starting on the front foot.
Appleton said: ‘It was always going to be an uphill battle for us to get off to a flier and get 10 points in four games.
‘We’ve ground out results and played well at times in periods of those games.
‘Momentum can be crucial.
‘Over a three-game period it’s no coincidence that we started well in those games.
‘If you take the Scunthorpe goal out of it, where we scored almost straight after they went ahead, we’ve started well in those games.
‘That’s given us a platform.
‘Tuesday was the quickest goal ever conceded against me as a manager or coach. That was a shock to the system.
‘We have to make sure the game’s tight after 20 minutes or that we’re ahead.’
n Brian Howard will be the guest at the Pompey Supporters’ Club Central Branch meeting this Monday (7.30pm).
The Blues captain will be at the Pitch Side Restaurant at Fratton Park. Members only but fans can join on the night.