Dion Donohue celebrated burying his injury pain as he made a match-winning Pompey return.
The midfielder told of his frustration at enduring a lengthy period on the sidelines, as he bagged the Checkatrade Trophy winner at Crawley last night.
And now the 25-year-old has set his sights on nailing down a first-team berth following the 1-0 victory at the Broadfield Stadium.
Pompey progressed to the second round of the much-maligned competition as they made nine changes to the team defeated by Gillingham at the weekend.
One of the big plus points was undoubtedly the sight of Donohue back in a blue shirt for the first time since April
It’s been a torrid time for the Welshman, with a blistered foot, glandular fever, plus groin and hamstring problems making for a testing period.
Donohue couldn’t hide his delight at being back out on the pitch in senior action – now he’s hunting for more of the same.
He said: ‘It’s been a frustrating, very frutrating, time.
‘So to get out there and play, and get through it unscathed is pleasing.
‘It’s been a while for me now so I’m just happy. I’m happy it’s my first game back.
‘It’s been hard to take –especially the hamstring injury. That was a real blow.
‘I had the glandular fever, a groin injury and then played in the Plymouth under-23 game. I felt fine and even better against Reading in another reserves game, but the fella gave me a shove in the back and I felt it go.
‘That was tough to take because I just felt like it couldn’t be happening again.
‘I’m glad I can put it behind me now. There’s still a lot of time to go in the season and there’s still a lot of work to do.
‘I wanted to get the minutes in and get through this game. But I feel as fit as I ever have.
‘Now I have to break back into the 11 and help the team out whenever they need me.’
Donohue showcased his quality with an impressive 37th-minute finish to cap a fine return.
The goal highlighted the Blues’ quality on the counter-attack, as the arrival from Chesterfield cut on to his weaker right foot and fired home an unerring strike.
Donohue added: ‘My right foot’s for standing on!
‘But I hit it clean, even if it could’ve gone anywhere!
‘We showed athleticism and are a powerful side now and that goal showed it.
‘It was a fair, old way for me to run! I was just pleased to get the goal at the end of it.
‘The fella was catching me up so I had to lose him somehow! Fortunately he fell for it, I got some space and put it in the bottom corner.’