The man elevating Portsmouth into promotion contenders

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Ronan Curtis has the quiet confidence of a young professional who knows exactly where his career is headed.

Well, okay, perhaps quiet isn’t quite the appropriate description for Pompey’s rising star – as his team-mates will certainly testify.

Ronan Curtis has been a revelation since his Pompey arrival. Picture: Phillip Oldham

Ronan Curtis has been a revelation since his Pompey arrival. Picture: Phillip Oldham

But this young Irish ace is riding the line between confidence and arrogance perfectly since his summer arrival from Derry City, adding a likeable belief and spark to his squad.

More importantly, his forward-thinking intent has heightened the attacking play of Kenny Jackett’s side and been fundamental in handing them the status of early-season pacesetters.

That was clearly evident as he extended his team’s unbeaten run to 11 games – and made it the best start to a season for 57 years with the winning goal against Coventry on Tuesday night.

The reality is there wasn’t a lot between the two sides at the Ricoh Arena.

But, like Rochdale last Saturday, Pompey look an outfit with the minerals and defensive stoutness to ride out the periods of threat an opponent will inevitably enjoy.

And, in Jamal Lowe and Curtis, Jackett possesses a couple of attacking gems it’s hoped will separate their team from the rest this term.

That’s exactly what Curtis did when seizing upon Brett Pitman’s knockdown in the second minute of first-half stoppage-time.

Presented with a sky blue wall, the 22-year-old effortlessly shimmied and swayed until he found the chink of light to smash home a battering-ram finish which saw Coventry’s defences crumble.

It was a moment of quality executed with the swagger of a player at the top of his game.

By his own admission, Curtis could scarcely of dreamed of a better start to his Pompey career.

No doubt, he would’ve always had a conviction he would make the most of his chances. But, coming from the League of Ireland to League One, he didn’t necessarily expect them to arrive immediately.

Although modest in the game these days, a transfer fee in the region of £100,000 was a significant outlay by Pompey’s current standards.

That fee was a statement of belief and Jackett has seen enough in Curtis’ ability to back his judgement by handing him an immediate starting place this term. The player has never looked back.

Meteoric is exactly what his rise has been, especially when you factor in his elevation into the Republic of Ireland senior set-up.

That has already seen the thought surface Pompey may well need to secure promotion this term to keep their hands on a talent whose made no secret of his ambition to progress.

As he gave his post-match assessment on Tuesday, Curtis took a second to look around the 32,000-capacity arena he’d just lit up.

You could sense he felt he belonged in such a setting.

He’s a player who has epitomised the feelgood factor coursing through his squad, however, and it’s obvious he’s loving life at PO4. And why not?

It was difficult not to get pulled along by the character’s enthusiasm as he gave his views.

However, even in the midst of another heady moment Curtis was pragmatic enough to note there will be speed bumps on the path Pompey are aiming to take to promotion.

There will be games like the recent Wycombe clash where, by the impressive standards he’s set, the former Swilly Rovers junior will be off the pace, along with his side.

You get the feeling, though, Curtis has the character and desire to take on the mantle of providing the flourish any successful team needs – and, crucially, the ability to deliver it.

From the moment this lad from Donegal opened his mouth on arrival to reveal an accent more in keeping with emanating within earshot of Bow bells than the land of green, he’s been full of surprises.

The rest of League One and, no doubt, the wider English game has now spotted the emerald Jackett is polishing into a precious commodity.

But you’d fancy the man who’s proving the key to elevating Pompey into realistic contenders this term to carry on delivering the revelations.