Kenny Jackett has lauded Jack Whatmough’s early-season Pompey impact.
In Matt Clarke’s injury absence, the defender has seized his opportunity to partner Christian Burgess in the centre of Pompey’s defence.
The Academy product started the League One curtain-raiser against Rochdale last Saturday, plus the 2-1 extra-time defeat to Cardiff in the Carabao Cup first round on Tuesday.
Tom Davies appeared to be ahead of his team-mate in the centre-back pecking order during pre-season.
But Jackett reiterated his team was never set in stone in the build-up to the new campaign.
Whatmough grabbed his chance with his display in the Blues’ final friendly win at Crawley.
The Gosport talent has subsequently produced two impressive efforts – and Jackett admitted he’s been impressed with what he’s seen from the 20-year-old.
The manager said: ‘They both (Whatmough and Davies) played against Crawley and in that game I thought Jack came out on top slightly – that was the key factor.
‘I saw Jack came on for Pompey a lot last season, generally as a substitute when teams were throwing everything into the box.
‘He got in the team through his performance at Crawley and I was pleased with him on Tuesday and against Rochdale.
‘I thought he played very well against Cardiff.
‘Before the match, myself and Joe (Gallen) said our centre-halves would have to love heading the ball.
‘We knew about Greg Halford’s long throw and the balls that would be put in.
‘Jack certainly loves to head the ball and you need centre-backs who are good in the air.
‘He’s got the timing and the will to do it.’