Ricky Holmes limbered up for his Pompey reunion and insisted: I have nothing to prove.
The winger will be pitched against the manager who showed him the door when the Blues travel to Northampton tonight (7.45pm).
Andy Awford’s decision to jettison Holmes in January divided fans at the time, while the player has responded to a change of scenery with a starring role in the Cobblers’ recent resurgence.
With two goals and five assists in 10 games, as well as collecting the club’s January player-of-the-month accolade, the 27-year-old is in fine form.
Holmes never said farewell to Awford when his 18 months at Fratton Park ended.
But the reigning News/Sports Mail Pompey Player of the Season is adamant he bears no grudges – nor does he need to make a point.
I held my hands up in The News before and I’ll say it again, I wasn’t fully fit and as a result did not do myself justice.Ricky Holmes
He told The News: ‘I’m looking forward to tonight, it is against all my mates, people I have made a good bond with over 18 months.
‘But I have nothing to prove.
‘I have proven at Northampton I am still capable of playing at this level. Since I have been here I have been made player of the month and the club has been doing well.
‘We have won seven out of the last 10, only losing once, and I’ve been involved in a lot of goals after being given the freedom to play in the final third as a four.
‘I had my injuries at Pompey at the start of the campaign and missed a chunk of pre-season, which was a massive part of getting fit.
‘I held my hands up in The News before and I’ll say it again, I wasn’t fully fit and, as a result, did not do myself justice. No doubt about that.
‘Playing on with a bit of an injury is something I regret, I should have taken longer to recover like some people do.
‘When I did start to get fit I thought I was doing well, but the gaffer wanted to go in a different way. It is a matter of opinions.
‘That’s football, it happens. I do not hold any grudges, I am happy and it has worked out for the best.
‘I have two years left on my Northampton contract after this season. There is a bit of security for me now and I thank them for that.
‘I didn’t speak to the manager when I left. There were no words for me to say, but I am sure we will clear the air before tonight’s game.
‘I am not going to hold a grudge against him and wish Pompey, which is a fantastic club, all the best.’
The Blues themselves have thrived since Holmes’ departure – unbeaten in seven matches, consisting of four wins and five clean sheets.
Still, last term the winger grabbed 11 assists – more than any other League Two player.
Now he is flourishing under Chris Wilder.
Holmes added: ‘Moving to Northampton has been a breath of fresh air for me.
‘It is nice to be told to go out and play with freedom. The manager believes in me and that trust shows on the pitch.
‘Sometimes you need that.’