Paul Cook is striving to add consistency to the impressive armoury of Christian Burgess.
The central defender was immense in the 10-man Blues’ gutsy victory at Cambridge United on Saturday.
When Christian gets challenged he always stands up to the plate – but we have got to make sure Christian feels that pressure moreChristian Burgess
Burgess was a colossus at the heart of Pompey’s defence throughout, unbeatable in the air and impregnable on the ground.
His sublime long-range pass also created the first-half matchwinner for Conor Chaplin.
The 25-year-old has maintained a mantle as Cook’s best centre-half since arriving from Peterborough in June 2015.
However, the Blues boss is aware he needs to draw out Burgess’ best on a more regular basis.
Cook said: ‘Fair play to the kid, he’s got that in him and he’s had that a couple of times last year, like when we went to Bristol Rovers.
‘We won 2-1 that day and he was outstanding.
‘When Christian gets challenged he always stands up to the plate – but we have got to make sure Christian feels that pressure more.
‘How you do that I don’t know.
‘You have just got to work and keep on going.
‘On Friday we challenged all the lads with figures from last year.
‘We pride ourselves on dominating games, dominating possession, not conceding – and they are all the habits we are trying to bring to this club.’
Burgess has made 58 appearances for Pompey, scoring four times.
When available for selection, he has been an automatic choice in the centre of Cook’s defence, alongside a number of different partners.
Last season, he lined-up next to Matt Clarke, Adam Webster, Adam Barton or Jack Whatmough as the Blues recorded the fourth-best defensive record in League Two.
Saturday marked the resumption of his double act with Clarke, which previously flourished last season.
It was only the third time during the current campaign they have been matched together following Clarke’s injury problems.
Cook has long lauded the importance of a left-footed and right-foot central defensive combination in terms of balance.
Once more the pair displayed their understanding with a solid showing, particularly during the final 29 minutes following Amine Linganzi’s sending off.
Clarke had been restored to the team in place of Tom Davies having recovered from his latest injury problem.
And that well-worked partnership can be expected to remain intact in League Two fixtures for the foreseeable future.
He added: ‘Everyone knows we are a good football team, everyone knows we dominate the ball.
‘On Saturday we showed that character and got the result.’