Paul Cook is convinced Tom Davies has provided Pompey with an added edge – in attack as well as defence.
The 24-year-old central defender has started the Blues’ past three league matches as he strives to establish himself alongside Christian Burgess.
Tom helps us like that, he is told to get the ball forward quicker, so we have gone from being predictable to unpredictablePaul Cook
He has swiftly impressed with a no-nonsense defensive approach and willingness to put his body on the line.
Davies represents an alternative to the ball-playing centre-halves Cook has largely favoured during his time at Fratton Park.
But Pompey’s boss believes the former Accrington player’s preference for getting the ball forward quicker has been an essential attacking tool.
And he has no desire to shackle the defender’s approach.
Cook said: ‘Tom is more aggressive than our natural defenders, he’s a good lad who has come here on the back of a really good first year at Accrington,
‘He is a front-foot defender, he wants to be aggressive, he wants to defend and, when we want to engage in open games, the necessity for defenders to defend becomes more important.
‘Certainly, Tom ticks the criteria.
‘He also has a long punt, and booting it the length of the pitch helps us.
‘It’s smashing it up to the front, getting the ball forward quicker, whereas when Adam Barton was here he would be very pass-orientated, as are some of our other lads.
‘Tom helps us like that, he is told to get the ball forward quicker, so we have gone from being predictable to unpredictable.
‘We don’t get Carl Baker and Milan Lalkovic running at people in that last third enough so what we are trying to do is instigate moves.
‘And Tom can do that.’
Saturday represents a return to the Crown Ground for Davies following his summer switch.
The ex-Manchester United apprentice made 39 appearances during his first and only season for John Coleman’s side.
Accrington have also been raided for Kal Naismith and Adam Buxton since Cook was installed as Blues manager in May 2015.
Davies has now made five appearances since his arrival on the south coast.
And Cook has been impressed by the commitment demonstrated by the centre-half.
‘That was a good block by Tom with his lower body against Crawley, wasn’t it,’ added the manager.
‘A 3-0 win is a better result than a 3-1. Psychologically, it is a much more all-round team performance.
‘We expect to defend well and expect to attack in numbers.
‘People talk about negative formations, but if you look at Enda Stevens’ position on the pitch, if the left-back is up there you haven’t got many defenders back at the other end. We think we are a positive team – others might not agree.’