Steve Cotterill lauded Ritchie de Laet’s progress but admitted: I don’t know if he’ll stay.
The Pompey boss heaped praise on the Belgium international for the form he’s shown since arriving on loan from Manchester United.
Cotterill is keen to see the 22-year-old remain at Fratton Park after shining in the 20 appearances he has made following his arrival in January.
De Laet has spoken of how much he has loved life with the Blues and is delighted to be getting the regular football he craves.
But with Cotterill finding himself in a state of flux as the takeover saga at the club rumbles on, he has little idea of what moves he can make.
He said: ‘I don’t know if he (de Laet) can come back. That’s a conversation that has to be had with Sir Alex Ferguson.
‘And it’s a conversation to have with our own board to see if we have any money to buy him.
‘We would like any good young player.
‘Ritchie, I think, gets better with time and playing more games.
‘When you are not a regular starter at any club your mental toughness can maybe go up and down.
‘The longer he plays the better he’s become. He’s done great for us.
‘He’s got pace – and that’s a fantastic asset.
‘We’ve worked on the defensive side of his game since he’s been here.
Cotterill added: ‘I think he’s a better defender now than he was when he first came though the door.
‘Maybe he relied a bit too much on his pace and would give people a chance.
‘Now, he snuffs that chance out because he’s stood in a better place.
‘His positional sense has helped him as well as working with a steady back four.
‘He’s got a decent rapport with Greg Halford, who has also been excellent. I’m very pleased with him.
‘We like to have our full-backs attacking.
‘What happens is when they have a lot of games they wonder where it’s come from.
‘But that has helped him. He said it’s been his most enjoyable season – it’s because he’s playing. He’s been a good loan signing.’
Cotterill believes de Laet has typified the spirit of the loan players, who have come in to the club this season and shown impressive commitment to the cause.
The Pompey boss has no doubt his men would have been doomed without the dedication of his temporary arrivals.
Cotterill said: ‘Ritchie’s one of the many loan signings who have come in and bought into it.
‘They’ve been part of it, they really have. All of them.
‘The loan signings have been a breath of fresh air. Without them we would have been dead and buried.’