Jack Whatmough is pushing for a Pompey squad recall against Carlisle following a successful reserves return.
The centre-back featured for 61 minutes in the 2-2 draw against Bournemouth on Tuesday afternoon.
The decision to substitute the 18-year-old was predetermined – considering it was his first match since picking up a hamstring injury at York on October 4.
Whatmough has missed out on Pompey’s last five games, yet emerged from his reserve run-out with no apparent setback.
And Alan McLoughlin was pleased with the Gosport youngster’s comeback ahead of the Cumbrians’ visit on Saturday.
Pompey’s joint first-team coach said: ‘Jack played 61 minutes, it was key he did and he is okay.
‘At times you could see it was his first game back but that’s fine.
‘Thankfully we are in the reserve league, otherwise he wouldn’t have a game and then you are relying on a training session and it doesn’t quite replicate a game situation.
‘Your thought processes are over an hour and there are stop-standstill issues in training, such as having a drink after working hard for 10 minutes.
‘Tuesday was important for him and he will get the benefit of that.
‘He did miss two gilt-edged headers to score but there is no point berating him, he knows he should have hit the target.
‘But Jack will learn. It is very, very rare you head the ball perfectly.
‘Your margin for error is easier if you aim at the keeper but more often than not you are going to mis-head it slightly and that is when you beat him.’