Steve Cotterill has pinpointed Hayden Mullins as his Pompey player of the season.
But only by a whisker ahead of Jamie Ashdown.
The fans’ choice for The News & Sports Mail player of the season will be unveiled at Fratton Park today.
The Blues player our readers have given the most votes to will be presented with the honour on the pitch ahead of the clash with Norwich City.
Mullins and Ashdown are both firmly in the running, as are Joel Ward, Greg Halford and David Nugent.
As far as Cotterill is concerned, though, his vote goes to Mullins.
The former West Ham midfielder has featured in 47 matches so far this season – more than any other outfield player.
He would have been an ever-present at this point had it not been for a controversial sending off against Coventry City, which earned him a one-match ban.
The Blues boss has also been quick to sing the praises of Ashdown, the side’s other outstanding performer over the whole campaign in his eyes.
But it is Mullins he believes warrants the accolade.
He said: ‘There are two players who stand out for me above all else, probably because they have been here all season and their form has been pretty good all season.
‘It is Jamie Ashdown and Hayden Mullins.
‘It will be very difficult to separate between those two – a close-run thing – with Hayden maybe getting the nudge.
‘I think for the outfield players it is always more difficult to sustain good performances because if the defence is playing well Jamie might not have had a lot to do.
‘I look at Hayden and see he has had to play in a lot of different positions, the amount of games he’s played and how he has performed in those games.
‘If he hadn’t been ridiculously sent off the other week he would have only two games to go before completing the whole season.
‘It is very much nip and tuck between those two, for me, who would have been our best performer.
‘It’s a bit harsh on Jamie me saying this but my player of the season is Hayden Mullins.’
Mullins arrived in the January 2009 transfer window from West Ham when Tony Adams was Pompey manager.
Within weeks he had a new boss in Paul Hart, following Adams’ dismissal.
But he largely failed to convince the Fratton faithful during his 17 appearances that campaign.
The midfielder turned it around last term, though, with some battling displays, particularly in the FA Cup run where on occasions he played out of position at full-back.
This season he has been an integral part of the side, helping Cotterill cope in the absence of fellow experienced midfielders Richard Hughes and Michael Brown since the turn of the year.
And those displays have had his current Pompey manager singing his praises.
He added: ‘Hayden is very much one of those that when you haven’t got him you miss him.
‘He tidies up a lot, he has good experience and he stands in great positions because he has a good eye for the game so sees danger.
‘I think he has been fantastic for us this season – a real unsung hero.
‘Jamie has been sung a bit more of a hero at times than Hayden, especially after an emergency appendix operation and playing at Norwich.
‘Hayden is a great lad as well. I haven’t heard him moan about anything.
‘He doesn’t always plays his best but gives every game, has played in lots of positions and is a very, very popular boy in the dressing room.
‘Hayden has been fantastic.’