Greg Halford has backed his central-defensive partnership with Ricardo Rocha to become one of the Championship’s best.
The duo struck up an instant rapport after being united in February at Doncaster Rovers.
That signalled the start of six successive clean sheets and a post-war club record for league minutes without conceding.
They are once again likely to be Cotterill’s preferred centre half pairing for the start of the season after Halford made a permanent move from Wolves this summer.
In just 12 matches together, Halford and Rocha have formed a formidable double act.
And Halford believes they can go on to establish themselves as one of the finest in the division.
He said: ‘Rick is a top player. He has been there, seen it, done it, played in the Champions League, everything.
‘For all praise I have received for playing well at centre-back, that is only because I have been playing next to someone so good.
‘It makes your life so much easier playing with a top player.
‘We can definitely be one of the best partnerships in the division.
‘We are both looking at getting into the team of the year and once again will have a strong defence this year. Definitely.
‘You get these partnerships where things click. The first one which comes to mind is the strike duo of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole at Manchester United.
‘You don’t know why, you just click, and that has happened with us.
‘Rick doesn’t really need to talk you through it. As long as you keep an eye on him, see where he goes, you can take your positions off him.
‘If you have got half a brain in football and play alongside a player like Rick, the game is easy.
‘I don’t think he is as laid back as I am on the pitch, but we do tend to sometimes make it look a little too easy.
‘Maybe the one downside to our game is neither of us are a Roger Johnson in the air who heads everything. We are not that sort of player.
‘We want to get the ball and play through the midfield and that is what we ended up doing last season.’
Tal Ben Haim and Aaron Mokoena represent challengers to Halford and Rocha’s first-team place.
Yet their futures remain uncertain during a summer which has them linked with moves away from Fratton Park.
Jason Pearce has also arrived from Bournemouth to push for a spot.
And the 23-year-old has certainly impressed Halford.
He added: ‘Pearcey has come in and looked very good this summer.
‘He is an aggressive type, which sometimes is what you need. He will play his share of games this season without a doubt.
‘Going into games sometimes you need that aggression.
‘You can’t always have that laid-back style, you can’t always go and play football the way you want it.
‘People nullify you by pushing forwards on to you so you are going to have to kick it long sometimes and it can come back over our heads.
‘You want people like Pearcy to go and head it, to go through people and to win 50/50 tackles.’