Determined Danny Hollands has made his return to Pompey match action.
Yet remarkably the midfielder hadn’t even participated in full training ahead of Monday’s welcome comeback.
Danny was desperate to play and has accelerated his rehab because of his desire to get back inIan Foster
Hollands appeared as a 70th-minute substitute for Amine Linganzi in a behind-closed-doors friendly against a Liverpool Foundation team.
It marked his first Blues appearance since tearing ankle ligaments in the second-leg play-off defeat to Plymouth Argyle.
Out of contract since this summer, the 30-year-old has been working hard to return to fitness in a bid to prove he has a Fratton future.
Monday’s 7-0 victory also saw Gareth Evans feature – and net – following his own injury problems.
Yet whereas he trained with the first-team on Friday, the eager Hollands was prepared to jump straight into a match.
First-team coach Ian Foster said: ‘It’s nice for Danny, just like Gareth he has worked incredibly hard and made sacrifices in the close season to get himself right.
‘They both had similar injuries, although Danny required surgery, but they have literally come back at the same time.
‘Both look bright and, with the physios during close season, have got themselves really, really fit.
‘Danny has not had a training session yet and that is the first little bit he has done with the team.
‘But he was desperate to play and has accelerated his rehab because of his desire to get back in. He kept saying he was fit and well and we gave him the opportunity to play on Monday and he came through fine.’
Monday’s Liverpool Foundation opponents represented the chance to get more match minutes into the legs of those Blues players not likely to start against Carlisle United at Fratton Park on Saturday.
In addition, for Kyle Bennett and Tom Davies it was another run-out following an injury-hampered pre-season.
There was also an outing for transfer-listed Kal Naismith, while triallists Linganzi and Noel Hunt featured.
Managed by John McMahon, brother of former Liverpool and England midfielder Steve, the Liverpool Foundation fielded a youthful side.
Yet for Foster, the fixture was important in terms of preparation for the season ahead.
He added: ‘It was to get lads who need match minutes into them. They’ve had a lot of training sessions but it is important to get their shin pads on and have a proper game.
‘Football’s funny, you can only get match-fit by playing.
‘You don’t get it in training because you can’t really train at that tempo, so it was important we had a fixture and those lads have got the minutes into them.
‘John McMahon, who we know, asked in close season whether he would be able to bring a team down, they have some young exciting players and it was ideal.’