Jack Whatmough’s resurgence has pleasantly surprised many Pompey fans.
But the man himself isn’t one of those taken aback by his hurtling return to prominence. Whatmough’s inclusion in place of Christian Burgess has coincided with some much-needed defensive solidity.
Three clean sheets on the bounce arrived as the 21-year-old partnered Matt Clarke in a youthful central defensive combination.
Whatmough has looked immediately comfortable, despite returning after five months out with his latest knee problem.
There’s been no period of adjustment for the Gosport lad as he’s returned with a high level of consistency.
With a quiet conviction in his ability and knowledge of the work he’s put in to make a full recovery, Whatmough always felt he’d be able to quickly make his mark.
‘I might have surprised a few people but I’ve got confidence in my ability,’ the academy product said.
‘You’ve got to have confidence in yourself, without a doubt.
‘You’ve got to go into a game confidently. I’ve gone into games not feeling confident and had a stinker.
‘When you go in confidently it turns out well. You have to tell yourself in the situation you’re in you’re going to be the best player on the pitch.
‘I knew I’d be ready when called upon. I’ve worked hard with the strength and conditioning coaches.
‘It wasn’t a surprise to me that I could play 90 minutes as soon as I was asked. I knew I wasn’t going to be tired.
‘Against Gillingham I came off after 70 minutes but there was never a point when I felt tired. I knew the work I’d put in would get me through it.’
Whatmough’s challenge now is to make sure he’s difficult to dislodge after picking up game time.
He promised he doesn’t intend to let standards drop after working so hard to put himself in the position to pick up regular minutes once again.
Whatmough knows he has plenty of people to thank for getting him into the position to play first-team football once more.
He’s had to draw on all of the advice given to him in his career to return in the impressive manner he has.
Whatmough added: ‘When I first broke through it was Andy Awford, Alan McLoughlin and Paul Hardyman helping me massively.
‘The players around that time were Ben Chorley and Paul Robinson. Then in the last few years it’s Paul Cook and Leam Richardson.
‘Blakey (Robbie Blake) last year and at the beginning of this season had a big impact on me. He pulled me to one side and worked on my touch.
‘I may be in the team now but you need to work on things. The staff here have been brilliant to let me stay on top of things.
‘It’s easy to slack off when you’re in the team but there’s always people pulling you to one side saying to stay on top of this and that.’