Hayden Mullins is finally rediscovering the form which saw him crowned Pompey’s player of the season last term.
That is the verdict of Steve Cotterill as his side begins to pick up the pace.
Mullins won a string of awards last year in recognition of his best-ever Blues campaign.
Among the honours was The News/Sports Mail accolade, as voted for by our readers.
But it has been a disappointing start to the current season for the ex-West Ham man.
Cotterill admits the 32-year-old’s displays have dipped below their usual high standards.
That changed in the 1-0 victory over Reading, when he was outstanding.
Mullins maintained his return to form in last weekend’s goalless draw at Bristol City.
And his manager believes the midfielder is now firmly back on track.
Cotterill said: ‘Against Reading it was high intensity and they worked their socks off.
‘I thought it was Hayden’s best performance of the season, for sure.
‘Maybe it has taken him a little bit of time but I wouldn’t just say that was Hayden. Some footballers need the first six or so matches to get up to speed.
‘It varies with different players.
‘Some just start off from the first game, others need to build up.
‘Hayden is an important player for us and it’s good he’s now putting in those performances we know he is capable of.’
Pompey welcome Cardiff to Fratton Park at the weekend, looking to build on recent results.
Victory against Reading was followed by a point at Bristol City.
It means Cotterill’s men have now taken five points from their opening matches.
And that has taken them into 11th spot.
These are obviously still early days for the Blues.
But their manager has been impressed with their league endeavours so far.
He added: ‘I have said to them all along, they have to work hard.
‘If they work hard it will please the fans and will please me.
‘The reason for that is because I see their quality every day and know what they can achieve.
‘The harder they work the quality will come through in the end because they are good players.’