Kenny Jackett is convinced Pompey’s reinforced defensive fortitude can propel them into a promotion challenge.
The Blues boss has identified the necessity for bolstering his team’s back line to secure an improved placing.
Last season they shipped 56 goals during an eighth-place finish – almost double the tally conceded by League One title-winners Wigan.
Goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray and Lee Brown has been recruited to add more steel to Pompey’s rearguard, while Tom Naylor will anchor the midfield.
For last weekend’s season-opener, the Blues produced a brilliant defensive display in a 1-0 win over Luton.
And Jackett is anticipating more steely performances this term.
He said: ‘We were just outside the play-offs for the majority of the season last year and finishing eighth was just about right for us.
‘We are looking to try to go one better if we can and defence is one area we can improve on.
‘Obviously, on Saturday using possession constructively was another aspect which must be looked at, but similarly you do need the qualities we showed in defence.
‘We have the ability to defend like we did, putting your body on the line and never giving up.
‘We certainly hope we are in a situation which can do better than 20 league defeats in a season, that’s one of the targets we feel we can improve on from last year.
‘No disrespect to Alex Bass, but we’ve probably some better competition with Craig (MacGillivray) coming in to compete with Luke McGee. I am confident in both goalkeepers.
‘I also think Lee Brown has brought in some experience which we’ve needed, with more than 350 games for a left-back.
‘But also we have two 21-year-old centre-halves who are a year older and more experienced, which helps.
‘Then if you throw in the likes of Nathan Thompson and Christian Burgess, hopefully that can produce a resolute defence for the season.’
Thompson is struggling for Saturday’s trip to Blackpool with a knee injury.
Burgess replaced him at right-back for the final 19 minutes against the Hatters, also playing his part in victory.
Jackett added: ‘It was between Matt Clarke and Jack Whatmough for man of the match.
‘They are young – and I am a Burgess fan as well, he’s a good player.
‘With the three of them, if we can keep them fit and available we are quite well covered for that position.’