Michael Smith hopes he has answered his Pompey doubters after hitting a hat-trick in the 4-3 Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Yeovil Town last night.
And the underfire striker admitted he was ‘over the moon’ to end his disappointing start to the season with a devastating display of finishing at Huish Park.
Smith began Pompey’s League Two campaign as Paul Cook’s chosen front man.
But three fruitless outings coincided with two draws and a defeat as he lost his place in both the starting line-up and the matchday squad.
Two successive victories followed with Smith seemingly down the pecking order at Fratton Park.
But given a chance to prove his worth last night, the 6ft 4in front man responded with a man-of-the-match display and then insisted he had not lost confidence in his own ability.
Smith said: ‘I was desperate to score.
‘Not scoring in the league this season having started the first three games, I was a bit disappointed.
‘So just to get one meant a lot.
‘But to get three I am over the moon – just disappointed we didn’t get the result.
‘Not playing affects strikers in different ways.
‘I just want to score goals. My job is to score goals and if I’m not scoring then it means the team is not winning.
‘So I just want to score as many goals as I can.
‘Goals change people’s opinions of you. It is just one of those things.
‘But my confidence has never really gone.
‘The gaffer, staff and lads have always spoken highly of me in training and stuff, so it has never really gone.’
Smith got the ball rolling for a Pompey side sporting 11 changes from the team who beat Exeter City 1-0 in League Two on Saturday.
But the visitors’ defensive fragility saw them ship four goals in the first half – with Smith’s double leaving them two behind at the break.
Having completed his hat-trick 10 minutes into the second half, the striker was frustrated not to grab a fourth as the Blues left Huish Park empty-handed and with a fine for their wholesale changes to boot.
Smith added: ‘There’s not many times in games when you are on two goals, so you are desperate to get the hat-trick.
‘Any chance you get to get it you are going to try to take it.
‘I should have stuck one in right at the end for the fourth but I was happy with the three.
‘I thought we were a bit off it in the first half.
‘But in the second half I felt we did enough to get a result out of the game.
‘The gaffer made 11 changes last night, which speaks for itself.
‘We lost by one goal to a team that only made two changes.
‘I think that shows the strength in depth we have got and the quality of player we have got.’