Guy Whittingham believes John Akinde’s lack of match sharpness hindered his Fratton Park full debut.
In the absence of Patrick Agyemang, the 23-year-old was given a rare Blues start against Stevenage.
The match finished goalless, with Akinde substituted after 65 minutes following a disappointing display.
It was only the third time he has been named in Whittingham’s line-up since arriving at the start of February, such has been Agyemang’s form.
And despite being a regular substitute, the caretaker boss insists that statistic impacted on his Stevenage performance.
He said: ‘It was only John’s third start for us.
‘I know he is a big lad and everybody expects big men to hold the ball up, but if you are not match fit and not match sharp it doesn’t always happen.
‘I think that is what it was on Saturday.
‘He tried hard, I just don’t think he was match fit enough to take advantage of the day.
‘Pat took several games to be where he is now so that is probably where John is.
‘I thought he did okay. He was a threat in the box and we didn’t get enough balls into the box.
‘He will probably say he didn’t hold the ball up enough for us and that is the one criticism I had.
‘When you haven’t played for a while, you want to get the ball in and pass it quickly, and there were too many times he tried to shift the ball too quickly instead of getting it in and holding it up for us.
‘John has been fantastic, he has trained well, he is powerful, a threat in the air – and that is why I wanted to go with him against Stevenage.’
Akinde was released by Crawley in January.
Since then he has made 10 Pompey appearances, although has yet to score.