Paul Cook has hailed the displays of Matt Clarke following the defender’s shortlisting for Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month.
The 20-year-old has emerged as one of Pompey’s key performers during the promotion push.
That has now been recognised by Sky Bet, who have included him on a four-strong list to win February’s accolade.
Clarke netted against Accrington and was also a member of a Blues defence which conceded three goals in six matches.
He now vies with Adebayo Akinfenwa (Wycombe), Matt Godden (Stevenage) and Matty Kennedy (Plymouth) for the monthly award.
The winners will be announced on Friday.
And Cook is delighted to see his young defender in contention.
He said: ‘Clarkie getting recommended for something like that is great.
‘He is playing regularly – and young lads always improve when they play on a regular basis.
‘We made a decision when Adam Webster was moving on that Matt Clarke would be coming in. I’m not so sure the deal would have gone through if he had not come the other way.
‘We think Matt is a fantastic young player, left-footed centre-halves are very few and far between.
‘Defensively we have looked quite sound in general and he has played his part in that.
‘He’s a smashing kid who causes no problems and wants to get better. I see Pompey going up the leagues, so why wouldn’t he go with us?’
Gary Roberts was the last Blues player to scoop Sky Bet’s monthly award, with that arriving for his September performances.
Clarke’s consistent displays at the heart of Pompey’s defence have no doubt also put him in the running for club player-of-the-year honours.
He has made 24 appearances since recovering from a groin problem sustained at the end of last season.
But Cook also believes others continue to shine for the Blues.
He added: ‘We have quite a few players playing well at the minute, to be fair.
‘Enda Stevens could be one of them as well, he is in a good vein of form.
‘We have a core of lads playing quite regularly and doing quite well.
‘Amid our progress, the lads are doing okay, but there is always room for improvement.’