Jack Whatmough has lifted the lid on his battle to start with Christian Burgess.
The Pompey defender has told how the chase for a place in Kenny Jackett’s starting XI is being played out in the right spirit with his defensive team-mate.
Whatmough’s had the edge over the pair this term, despite a period on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.
The 22-year-old has started the past three League One outings, with Burgess getting a run-out at Crawley in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday.
Whatmough told how he believes he has the backing of the former Peterborough man, despite the pair being in competition.
And the Gosport talent sees such a challenge being integral to Pompey’s hopes of success this season.
Whatmough said: ‘There're no hard feelings if you're dropped for someone else.
‘There can't be. You can't have that in football.
‘It is a dog-eat-dog world in a way, but if you're not involved you just have to get your head down and work hard to get back in the team.
‘Then when you get in there you have to work doubly hard to stay in there.
‘I wouldn't be bitter towards Burge if he was to play, and I'm sure he wouldn't be bitter towards me either.
‘He'll keep me going and I'll keep him going.
‘If I need advice I'm sure he'd give it me – and the other way around.
‘There're no hard feelings at all, it's just football and how it pans out.
‘Burge is there and he's a good player. That gives you the added edge to carry on and kick on more.’
After 37 appearances last term, Burgess finds himself in unfamiliar Pompey territory of fighting for a starting place.
The likes of Danny Rose are also finding playing time harder to come by this season.
Whatmough feels those picking up fewer minutes are showing impressive levels of professionalism, with Kenny Jackett putting together a stronger group of players this term.
He said: ‘We've added really well.
‘The players we've brought in have been good additions and settled really well.
‘And, in the same sense, the boys not playing this season who did last season haven't sulked.
‘They've carried on and we're all fighting for each other.
‘It's enjoyable to be a part of and hopefully it's part of something special.’
- JORDAN CROSS