Matt Tubbs and Jayden Stockley have been jostling to serve in Pompey’s lone striking spot.
Now Adam McGurk has ridden up on the inside to stake his own claim following an impressive Barnet display.
You will see that if he gives the ball away he gets after it, he doesn’t stay disappointed for long. Some senior players have got that imbedded in them and he has certainly has itLeam Richardson
And Leam Richardson is convinced the 26-year-old possesses the credentials to now be regarded as a genuine candidate.
McGurk marked his league debut for the Blues with the crucial second goal in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Bees.
With Jayden Stockley absent after his partner had given birth to a baby girl, Paul Cook elected to go with the Ulsterman rather than promote Tubbs from the bench.
He had previously scored on his Pompey bow in the Capital One Cup against Derby, albeit operating behind the striker.
Now he is challenging for a different role – and Richardson is convinced the ex-Burton man can perform there.
Pompey’s assistant manager said: ‘We wanted to put Adam in there against Barnet to add a bit of freshness.
‘His attitude has been fantastic, he has trained very well, you have seen him in the games he has played.
‘He has come here to play, as a lot of lads have, and the hardest job at the minute for the gaffer and myself is to keep all the lads happy, and it is going to be an on-going process.
‘I think he fits into the team, Adam is a good player, he has got a bit of everything, he links play well, is intelligent, has a bit of physicality and has a goalscoring record, so let’s put him at that end of the pitch.
‘People say we play with a lone striker but I disagree. I think we play with four attacking players plus our full-backs, that’s six in total. Formations are sometimes hyped up for a negative or a positive.
‘You have XI players on the pitch and you must be more productive than the opposition.
‘He deserved his start on Saturday and he did very well.’
McGurk’s Pompey pre-season involvement was restricted by injury, totalling only 71 minutes of first-team friendlies.
Yet the forward who won the League Two title with Burton Albion last term has been involved in every squad since the campaign began.
His first outing as a striker under Cook was in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat at Exeter as part of a youthful side.
Now he’s vying for a consistent run in the role with Saturday’s trip to eighth-placed Oxford United next on the horizon.
Richardson added: ‘Adam’s attitude and application have been a different class since he came to the club.
‘He has got one of those habits which young lads can learn from in that when he makes a mistake he reacts within a second.
‘You will see that if he gives the ball away he gets after it, he doesn’t stay disappointed for long. Some senior players have got that imbedded in them and he has certainly has it.
‘He’s an intelligent player and when his time ends here – whether it be two years, five years or 10 years – you will see a good player in Adam McGurk, because he has got the quality.’