Kenny Jackett has admitted Conor Chaplin’s desire for regular starts could prompt first-team football elsewhere.
But Pompey’s boss concedes he currently doesn’t possess the striking numbers to let the 21-year-old depart either on loan or permanently.
It has been a season of immense frustration for Chaplin, irrespective of the Blues’ eighth-placed League One finish.
He scored five times in 32 appearances yet, crucially for the youngster, only 13 of those outings arrived in the starting line-up.
Chaplin also failed to make two of Pompey’s final eight squads as he slipped further behind in the reckoning.
The popular striker’s contract expires in the summer of 2019.
We have to look after the club as well and can’t go into a season with not enough forwards eitherKenny Jackett
Yet his Fratton Park future is being assessed now.
Jackett said: ‘Conor is a regular substitute, which we both know.
‘Conor and myself have talked about it a lot – it’s not where he wants to be. It still isn’t where he wants to be.
‘We’ll just have to see how he fits in and how next year goes.
‘He wants to be playing on a regular basis.
‘But there is no decision necessarily off the back of that because we are not awash with forwards and there has to be a balance of looking after the club as well as the player.
‘He is a regular substitute, which is probably where he has been for four years and would want to be a regular starter. At the moment he needs to play in a front two.
‘He has been tried with Pitman and his last start was Blackpool, where he played with Hawkins.
‘From Conor’s point of view, he will be a regular sub and we all recognise and know that. We are quite honest about the fact it is not what he wants.
‘But we have to look after the club as well and can’t go into a season with not enough forwards either.
‘We’ll see, first off we must consider the club and the squad, that has to be a consideration, but along the way there’s the player situation.’
Chaplin has scored 25 goals in 121 appearances since making his debut in December 2014.
But the academy graduate has struggled to earn a place in a variety of Jackett’s playing systems.
Pompey’s boss added: ‘He is still 21 and will get stronger. As you get stronger, different systems like playing up there on his own can open up, it’s hard when you are young.
‘Brett has taken that goal-scoring mantle, if you like, and I have found it hard to get both Brett and Conor in the team on a regular basis.
‘I have found it hard. Brett has been the main goalscorer and then we are looking for pace and mobility off him.
‘That has been the formula towards the end of the season.
‘Towards the end of the season, I felt 4-3-3 was our most effective formation, it helped us in midfield.
‘Then the options down the middle were Pitman, Hawkins and Chaplin.’