In-form Michael Smith has placed his goalscoring return down to old-fashioned hard work as he seeks to gun down Hartlepool at Fratton Park on Saturday (3pm).
Smith, who arrived on the south coast in a permanent deal from Swindon this summer, led the line for Paul Cook’s side at the start of the season before losing his place to Conor Chaplin after a run of games without a goal.
But having broken his scoring duck in the league as a substitute in the 1-1 draw at Cheltenham last month, Smith has now scored three times in his past four outings.
And the 25-year-old insists he is back at his confident best.
‘I am just enjoying playing football again,’ said Smith.
‘I had a bit of a blip at the start of the season but I have been working really hard off the pitch to try to get the best out of me.
‘Thankfully, it’s working.
‘Being out of the team does knock your confidence but you can’t solely blame that – it is an accumulation of things.
‘I am grateful to the gaffer for giving me the chance again – and, thankfully, against Cheltenham I managed to get the equaliser. It has kicked on from there.
‘Every striker goes through bad spells – it is about how you come out the other side.
‘Thankfully, I’ve been managing to score and helping the team to win. Hopefully that will continue.’
Nineteenth-placed Pools arrive at Fratton Park as big underdogs, having slumped to a 5-0 loss to Cambridge last time out.
Smith, though, insists the Blues – in fourth – will not be taking their visitors lightly.
He added: ‘We approach every team with the same respect we would approach a team at the top of the league.
‘Hartlepool are in League Two for a reason but we have to focus on us and then we will be alright.’