Dan Butler has been tasked with rising to the challenge of fighting for his Pompey first-team place.
Guy Whittingham has told the young left-back he wants to see him react to the battle for a starting spot with Marcos Painter in the right manner.
Whittingham has underlined his belief the defender has a bright future after taking him out of the firing line.
The Blues boss has spoken to the 18-year-old and made his feelings and expectations clear.
Now he wants the Isle of Wight talent to show what he is made of.
Whittingham said: ‘Dan Butler is going to be a decent defender – he is going to be a decent left-back.
‘He’ll earn a living from this game and hopefully that will be with us. But he is 18 and he is learning.
‘He has only had six months of professional football in League One. He’s a level-headed kid who knows where he is and is determined to do well.
‘We’ve spoken and since I pulled him last week he has been brilliant.
‘He’s a good kid with a good family behind him.
‘Dan’s down to earth but wants to be the best he can.
‘You can be impatient with that but I think he understands that everything that happens has to be for the good of this football club.
‘He’ll keep pushing and he has to understand that, since he’s been in the first team, he’s not really had any good competition.
‘I said to him, throughout his career if you are a good enough pro and you are playing in teams who want to be successful, you will have competition for places.
‘You have to learn how to cope with that.
‘Then you have to learn, if you are given the chance, how to take that opportunity.
‘If you’re not you have to learn how to do the right things until you are given the chance.
‘That’s the sort of learning stage all youngsters have to go through.’
Butler has made 20 appearances in a frenetic period after making the first-team breakthrough at Pompey.
But Whittingham feels going up against Painter for playing time in the next period of his career will be an education.
He said: ‘I think Dan will be able to learn from Marcos.
‘Dan is more of a player who is seen as a modern left-back – almost a wing-back.
‘But Marcos is more of a solid one and Dan can learn a bit of that. He can learn how to choose his moments to go forward, when to go forward, when to pass and concentrate at the back post – all things like that.
‘He’s 18 and a professional footballer.
‘You have to get that in perspective.
‘There are people who have been released who would love to be where he is.
‘Yes, you can get down, and I think my advice to any kid really is, yes, be down – but don’t let that last more than a couple of days because people notice.
‘When you are out on the football pitch the only way you can get back on the pitch is if you are training well.
‘Once you are training you have to be up for it and show a lot of enthusiasm.
‘All that stuff is part of the learning process.’