The leash has been attached, the muzzle applied.
James Dunne will not be snapping and snarling on the Fratton Park turf on Saturday – much to his frustration.
Paul Cook has brought some great players in like Michael Doyle, Kyle Bennett, Gary Roberts, these are Championship/higher League One players. You have to just get on with itJames Dunne
The combative midfielder has been denied the opportunity to make a forceful point to Paul Cook when Cambridge United visit the Blues.
A gentleman’s agreement reached during the January deal which took him to the Abbey Stadium has sidelined the 26-year-old.
An impressively shrewd stipulation from Pompey’s end, thereby denying Dunne the opportunity to potentially inflict damage on the Blues.
It’s an agreement which also deprived Leyton Orient of Nigel Atangana earlier this month.
For Cambridge, Dunne has been an ever-present since his arrival with six appearances as he kick-starts a career which stalled at Pompey.
Yet he must watch the action unfold from the South stand tomorrow.
He told The News: ‘They had a gentleman’s agreement that I wouldn’t be allowed to play, which is a bit annoying, I would have loved to have featured.
‘I don’t think I am that much of a match-winner!
‘I knew about it. When I left Paul Cook told me it would be there. These things happen and you have get on with it.
‘It is understandable, Pompey paid up my contract for me to go six months early. They don’t want a player they’re still paying scoring the winner against them, it wouldn’t look good.
‘Both managers have enough respect for each other to stick by the agreement. Besides, Cambridge are not the sort of club that would take the mick and play me when asked not to.’
Dunne was signed by Andy Awford for an undisclosed fee from Stevenage in the summer of 2014.
He swiftly established himself as a popular figure among the Fratton faithful with his tough-tackling, no-nonsense approach and willingness to give his all.
Yet the arrival of Cook as Blues boss in May 2015 resulted in the 26-year-old slipping out of the first-team frame.
And – following only 11 minutes of action this season – Dunne’s contract was cancelled by mutual consent in January to enable a switch to Shaun Derry’s side.
He added: ‘Any player at Pompey will not want to leave. It’s a massive club, has a great fan base, you are playing in front of 17,000 every week, who wouldn’t want to do that? Who would give that up so eagerly?
‘But it came to the point where I thought “I am not going to play so the best thing is to get out and play football”.
‘Some managers come in and want to put their own stamp on things, that is how football works now.
‘Paul Cook has brought some great players in like Michael Doyle, Kyle Bennett, Gary Roberts – these are Championship/higher League One players. You have to just get on with it.
‘I believe my attitude was spot on, I didn’t complain. But if you don’t fit in for whatever reason you have to move on to play your football elsewhere.’
For Dunne, it has been a difficult campaign, stemming from a Pompey pre-season absent of matches.
Yet he wishes his former club well in their promotion aspirations.
He said: ‘With what happened to me in pre-season, it’s hard to catch up when people are three-four games ahead.
‘We’d had a baby and Paul was really good helping me with that. Obviously, it’s hard for the first couple of weeks being on your own with a child, but he gave me time off. He was really good with me.
‘Then I came back and rolled my ankle, which didn’t help.
‘The travelling might have been an issue with Paul, but we had just bought a new house in Orpington, right near the motorway and an 80-minute trip.
‘I wasn’t able to just go and rent another house, that’s a lot of money with bills and a couple of mortgages. I couldn’t afford that.
‘Maybe there were concerns over my knee as well, but that has been fine.
‘It’s just what happens in football and I wish Pompey and the fans all the best.’