Ben Close insists there are no hard feelings between himself and Adam May as the pair battle for a starting berth in Pompey’s engine room.
The two Academy products both accept they are fighting for the same role alongside Stuart O’Keefe in Kenny Jackett’s starting line-up – but still want each other to do well.
May has been the preferred option for the majority of the season and has started six League One games.
But it was a curveball the 19-year-old wasn’t included in Jackett’s match-day squad for the Blues’ 4-1 victory against Fleetwood on Saturday.
Close replaced May against Uwe Rosler’s men after appearances off the bench at Wigan and Northampton and gained plenty of plaudits.
The duo are now going head-to-head for a starting place at Scunthorpe on Saturday (3pm) but Close is adamant there will be no bad blood between the pair depending on who is selected.
He said: ‘Myself and Adam are good friends, but we both accept we are striving to start in the same position.
‘We have both got a lot of respect for each other.
‘When Adam starts then I’ve got no qualms and I’m wishing him the best – and likewise with him towards me.
‘We know the harsh life of football but we both want to start games.’
Close was ahead of May in the pecking order under former boss Paul Cook.
Jackett’s arrival prompted May’s climb up the ladder and the former Eastleigh loanee has worked hard to impress.
‘Managers come in and have their own assessment of players,’ Close added.
‘If you find yourself lower in the pecking order, then that’s just the way it is.
‘You have to work hard to make sure you get starts.’