BRANDON HAUNSTRUP has been challenged to nail down his place in Pompey’s starting XI.
Kenny Jackett praised the Waterlooville talent’s emergence this season and wants to see him make the left-back position his own.
The Blues boss admitted he is likely to be on the lookout for a specialist player in the position in the January transfer window.
But Haunstrup is gaining momentum there with three impressive starts on the bounce and 11 appearances in total this term as he makes the breakthrough.
Jackett said: ‘Brandon has come through and done very well.
‘He had a tough time at Luton so he came out of the side, but he’s now back in and having a good, little run.
‘I’m very pleased with him. He’s into double figures now for appearances. That’s good.
‘It was tough for him last season with Enda Stevens being the standout player at the club, probably. It was hard for him to get any game time, but he can see the space there and has had a good run.
‘It was against Plymouth, when he made an attacking breakthrough.
‘(Graham) Carey was high, wide and inside – a very offensive player.
‘If we could get a bit of the ball, which we did that day, we could get our left-back going. It helped us to win the game.
‘He works hard at his defending and Luton was a tough game.
‘But, with hindsight, their next two at home after us were 3-0 and 7-0.
‘So it was a hard game and we had chances, so were unlucky not to get something.
‘For Brandon, anyway, it was a learning game.
‘Conor Chaplin is through and Ben Close is also doing very well. We’re looking for these players to come through, and, if that can be Brandon, that’s terrific.’
The likes of Matt Clarke, Dion Donohue, Drew Talbot and Nathan Thompson can also fill in at left-back.
But after being dealt injuries to loanees Damien McCrory and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Jackett would like two out-and-out left-backs competing.
He added: ‘I always thought Brandon could come through right from pre-season.
‘I wouldn’t like him to be the only specialist one, though.
‘You do need people who can compete with him and cover for an injury.
‘We’ve been through about six lists of left-backs with two injured!
‘So we’ve thrown the list away, will get it back out again and see where we are with people moving around.
‘You can put someone who can do a job there for a spell.
‘At the right time, particularly away from home, we’ve used Matt Clarke.
‘So I’d use that where I needed to, and also (Dion) Donohue as well who’s been out injured of late.
‘If there’s a left-back who’s going to take us forward then fine. But I wouldn’t want it to be someone who’s coming in and is too far away from it.
‘You do need a specialist in that position.’