Kenny Jackett remains confident Pompey fans have not seen the last of Stuart O’Keefe this season.
The midfielder has been ruled out until mid-April following a groin operation for a hernia-related problem.
Even before last week’s operation, the loanee from Cardiff had missed the Blues’ previous six fixtures.
Should O’Keefe return to full training on schedule, that would see him available for the final four matches of the campaign.
In addition, there is a potential play-off involvement should Pompey maintain their current interest.
However, realistically, any player sidelined totalling four months would not be expected to play first-team football straight away.
Nonetheless, O’Keefe remains on loan for the rest of the season as he maintains his injury fightback.
And Jackett anticipates a return to a midfield already navigating the gulf created by Danny Rose’s long-term absence.
Pompey’s boss said: ‘Stuart could play again this season.
‘I don’t know really the precise date, although he had an operation last week and the surgeon which carried it out estimated that it’s a 10-12 week recovery.
‘He also said the quickest anyone has done it is eight weeks before returning to training.
‘That’s the information we have and that is what we are basing it on at the moment.’
Taking into account the initial 12-week estimation, O’Keefe could be considered for Plymouth (April 14), Charlton (April 21), Bury (April 28) and Peterborough (May 5) in terms of League One action.
Similarly, Rose has not given up returning from his broken left leg before the season’s end.
However, he concedes it would be ‘miraculous’ should he manage such a comeback considerably ahead of schedule.
It is reasonable to expect O’Keefe’s return in the 2017-18 campaign, however, perhaps a timely run to bolster Pompey’s play-off challenge.
The 26-year-old has so far made 19 appearances, scoring twice, with both goals arriving in the Checkatrade Trophy in wins over Crawley and Northampton.
His most recent outing was against Bury on December 16, when injury forced him off at half-time and was replaced by Ben Close.
O’Keefe is contracted to Championship side Cardiff beyond this summer having signed a deal until 2019.
– NEIL ALLEN