The spark has reignited, the confidence replenished.
Rejuvenated Kal Naismith is back in Pompey’s first-team and bidding to demonstrate his footballing capabilities to the Fratton faithful.
My head was always in the right place but I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to do well, chasing trying to get into the teamKal Naismith
The midweek 1-1 draw at Exeter City marked the first time the 24-year-old has started successive Blues matches.
Such has been his Fratton Park inactivity, it was also only the fifth occasion he has made Paul Cook’s starting line-up since his summer arrival.
Injury at the tail-end of pre-season kept Naismith out of action for the opening four weeks of the campaign, forcing him to play catch-up ever since.
Yet following a four-game loan spell at Hartlepool, the Scot opted to return to Pompey in January – rejecting overtures to extend his Victoria Park stay.
Subsequently he has forced his way back into the first-team frame.
And Naismith credits that time away from the south coast as reinvigorating his Blues career.
He said: ‘Since I have come back from Hartlepool I have felt a totally different person and a different player.
‘My head was always in the right place but I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to do well, chasing trying to get into the team.
‘I just needed to get out and play those games at Hartlepool. That helped me massively on and off the pitch. Then I came back to Pompey and have felt different both on and off the pitch.
‘Before that loan I wasn’t performing very well in training or games that I came on in, to be honest. I lacked that bit of confidence.
‘I was happy at Hartlepool, there are great lads there and the manager Ronnie Moore helped massively. Playing games was great for me.
‘I hadn’t lost belief in myself but it kind of gave me that little spark.
‘Maybe that was confidence I didn’t have after becoming injured and coming back from that.
‘Obviously I’m from Glasgow, which is a long way from here – so you miss your family.
‘But everyone has made sacrifices to get to a good club like this, that is what football is all about.
‘Now I feel settled and a lot more relaxed off the pitch, being myself.
‘Hopefully that has shown through in my performances.’
To date Naismith has made 10 appearances for the Blues since signing for an undisclosed fee from League Two rivals Accrington Stanley.
In the past two matches he has occupied the right-hand side of midfield in a 4-4-2 system – a true test for a predominantly left-footed player.
Still, the ex-Rangers apprentice is finally bidding to make up for lost time.
And he is hoping many more Pompey first-team appearances are on the horizon.
He added: ‘You put a lot of pressure on yourself but I guess first and foremost you have to turn up every game and play well for the fans.
‘Before I went to Hartlepool I hadn’t played games in such a long time.
‘I would love to get as much match time as I can, everyone wants to play a part in any team.’