Boss Andy Awford hailed Johnny Ertl’s immense Huish Park display and insisted: That’s as good as he has ever played for Pompey.
The Blues pulled off a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy upset last night by winning 3-1 at Yeovil.
A great second-half display was crowned by two goals from Jed Wallace and one from Craig Westcarr.
That was good enough for the Blues to send their League One hosts crashing out of the competition and make it a good night for the away fans.
It was Ertl who stole the show with a magnificent showing in the centre of defence.
His efforts had Awford singling him out for praise, an approach normally resisted by Pompey’s boss.
And he is adamant the 31-year-old deserves massive credit for his performance in the heart of the defence.
He said: ‘Johnny is a top pro.
‘I haven’t selected him for a league game so far but his effort, commitment and desire to give his absolute everything for the football club and the team is there to be seen.
‘People might be surprised by his performance in defence last night.
‘But I’m not because I know he will give his absolute everything.
‘There were some great performances out there and it’s not often I pinpoint players but I think he deserves it.
‘I don’t like individualising people, I don’t normally do it, it’s not something I enjoy doing, I am all about the team.
‘That’s what Johnny Ertl is, all about team effort and team spirit – that is what he enjoys.
‘But last night I really do think he deserves special credit for his performance.
‘That is probably as good a game as Johnny Ertl has had for this football club I think.’
Heading into the Yeovil trip, the Austrian had been restricted to a bit-part role this season.
He had failed to make four of the opening seven squads.
His only appearance was in the Capital One Cup loss at Stoke last week.
Yet with Ben Chorley (dead leg) and Joe Devera (neck) out and Jack Whatmough training only once since his ankle injury, Ertl was asked to play centre half in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie.
As one of six changes, he responded with an outstanding display.
Awford has been delighted with the former Palace man’s attitude.
He added: ‘Johnny hasn’t made some match-day squads for us this year and it’s very easy for players to sulk and get their head down and have a row with me.
‘Not once has he stepped out of line – he has been an absolute model pro.
‘Even when he’s not in a squad he has travelled with us, as I want to keep him involved.
‘He is our club captain, Ben is our team captain when he plays, and yesterday overall his performance was right up there.’