Anton Walkes has been presented with a ‘tough nut to crack’, according to Pompey’s boss.
Now the summer signing has another prized opportunity to take advantage of Nathan Thompson’s absence.
Thompson sits out Saturday’s trip to struggling Bradford through suspension, thereby depriving Kenny Jackett of his first-choice right-back.
Such has been the former Swindon skipper’s impressive consistency, Walkes has been repeatedly tasked with serving as his deputy during a table-topping campaign.
The challenge to permanently overthrow Thompson is clearly a massive one for the Spurs graduate as he continues to push for more regular involvement.
And Jackett acknowledges the size of the job facing the ever-willing Walkes.
The Blues boss said: ‘Anton’s had a couple of niggly injuries which have not particularly helped the flow of his game.
‘But he is 21, has potential, has good power and really wants to build on a successful loan spell last season.
‘Nathan Thompson has mainly been my preferred choice at right-back so far, although Anton has had some games and hasn't done a lot wrong.
‘But Nathan has set some high standards and been a tough nut to crack so far this season.
‘Nathan has been a good player, he did well for us last year and this season seems to have improved again and set high standards in terms of his performances.
‘He has done very well so far and been a key player. For anybody out of the team, he has been quite hard to shift.
‘We think we have the balance right. Nathan is now up there and somewhere near his peak years, performing very well. He was captain of Swindon for quite a number of years and has a good tally of league games.
‘Then we have a younger lad underneath who is trying to get himself established and into the team, building towards it.’
Walkes has featured 10 times this season, chiefly at right-back when Thompson has been injured or unavailable.
Following a successful loan spell last season, the versatile performer joined in July for an undisclosed fee.
And Jackett has challenged the former Atlanta United loanee to find a way into the side.
He added: ‘Anton has to work hard to get the shirt and – when he does – must do everything he can to try to keep it.
‘He has a little bit of everything. I have talked to him this week about at the right time being able to really drive out from the back, drive forward and put people out of the game, combine with Jamal Lowe and get quality balls into the box.
‘He is sound defensively and a very, very strong competitor.’