Pompey’s boss joked Kal Naismith was worth a ‘four out of 10’ following his man-of-the-match display.
The Blues marched into the top three of League Two with a 2-0 triumph at Crawley last night.
Naismith laid on the 54th-minute opener when his right-wing corner was powerfully headed home by Christian Burgess.
Kyle Bennett wrapped up matters with a 71st-minute strike from long range, marking his second goal of the campaign.
However, the ever-versatile Naismith had to spend the final 26 minutes of the Broadfield Stadium clash as a stand-in left-back.
Dropping back to replace dead leg victim Enda Stevens, the Scot continued to shine for the Blues.
It capped a superb all-round display from a player who has fallen out of favour several times during his Fratton Park stay.
Yet he keeps fighting his way back into the side, much to the amusement of his Pompey manager.
Cook said: ‘Kal was excellent, just not at left-back!
‘It gives me a heart attack watching him play there, but with Enda off we needed someone to do it.
‘Make your own comments about him because me and Kal are not the best of mates at the best of times!
‘We have this nice relationship where we enjoy not liking each other.
‘I would say he was a four out of 10 last night!
‘Seriously, he has exceptional talent and when he applies himself is a really good player.
‘It’s Kal, he can play anywhere to be fair, and I also thought Noel Hunt was excellent when he came on for Enda.’
Last night represented Naismith’s 30th appearance in all competitions for Pompey this season, however 16 of those have arrived from the bench.
Regardless, he remains joint-top scorer along with Gary Roberts and Conor Chaplin with eight goals during the campaign.
With Carl Baker recalled in place of Gary Roberts for the trip to Crawley, Naismith featured as a member of the attacking three midfielders behind lone striker Eoin Doyle.
In doing so, he retained his starting spot having returned to Cook’s first-team against Crewe last weekend after six matches away.
He had to drop in as a holding midfielder after an injury to Amine Linganzi during that fixture, albeit with considerably less success.
Now the creative midfielder seeks to remain in the side.
– NEIL ALLEN