Guy Whittingham has welcomed the return of the ‘proper Johnny Ertl’ to his ranks.
The Pompey boss believes his captain was back to his best in the weekend romp over Rochdale.
And he pinpointed the return of Thery Racon to the club as a key factor in the midfielder’s destructive display on Saturday.
Ertl’s form has failed to hit the highs of his performances last season, as he picked up player-of-the-year plaudits.
But the 30-year-old showed what he was all about against Dale, as he continually broke up play and made his mark in the 3-0 success.
That coincided with Racon returning to the Pompey picture after he inked a one-month agreement last week.
Whittingham feels that Ertl performing well alongside the Frenchman is no fluke.
And he was delighted to see Ertl performing to his strengths once again.
‘That was the proper Johnny Ertl out there on Saturday,’ said Whittingham.
‘That’s what his game is about. He does the ugly side of the game really well.
‘What you can’t do is let the opposition play at their pace, and he didn’t let them do that.
‘Thery quite possibly helped Johnny.
‘They had a great partnership at the end of last season.
‘I asked them to get that going straight away again and they did that very well. They performed well together.
‘Thery’s good in tight situations. He can get hold of the ball and manipulate it well.
‘He very rarely loses it and tends to find a player in the same coloured shirt as him.
‘And Johnny did what Johnny does best.’
Whittingham has to decide whether to continue the central-midfield partnership of Ertl and Racon at Oxford tonight.
The Blues go to the Kassam Stadium in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy second round looking to continue the momentum built at the weekend.
Gavin Mahon is pushing for inclusion after also agreeing a month’s deal at Fratton Park last week.
The 36-year-old has been quick to make his mark in training with his no-nonsense play.
Whittingham has heralded the addition of Mahon’s grit to his ranks.
Mahon has carved out a niche as a combative midfielder in a career which has had stop-offs at the likes of Brentford, Watford and QPR.
Whittingham thinks his arrival sends out a message of intent.
He said: ‘Gavin brings a lot of experience. We need that experience and tenacity.
‘We need people like him around. We haven’t got that type of person who people will think is aggressive.
‘We need one of those in there. It’s someone we need on the pitch and in the changing room.
‘We need to let people know we’re not messing about here.
‘We have to do everything in our power to show that.’